What does the dream classical music career look like? One example is that of cellist Deborah Pae.
— Cleveland Classical
Praised by critics for her “extraordinary musicianship" (San Diego Union Tribune) and “magical” playing (Cleveland Classical), Korean-American cellist DEBORAH PAE has received international acclaim for her powerful performances and devotion to the arts.
Ms. Pae emerged onto the international stage in 2003, making her debut at the 45th GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden and the Recording Academy’s Seventh Annual Salute to Classical Music honoring the late Mstislav Rostropovich. Shortly thereafter, in 2005, she gave her European recital debut at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Over the span of 25 years, Ms. Pae has enjoyed an award-winning career as a soloist and chamber musician whose performances at major festivals and concert series throughout North America, Europe, and Asia have garnered critical acclaim. She has been a featured artist at the Marlboro, Ravinia, and Prussia Cove festivals and performed at venues including Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall in London, the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Palais des Beaux-Art in Brussels, and the Berliner Philharmonie. Her performances have been augmented by numerous radio and television broadcasts and recordings for ECM, New World, TYXarts, Bridge, and Outhere Records.
Deborah Pae is the cellist of two award-winning ensembles: the FORMOSA QUARTET, recipients of the First Prize and Amadeus Prize at the 2006 International London Quartet Competition, and the NAMIROVSKY-LARK-PAE TRIO, winners of the 2020 German Record Critics Award/Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik in the category of chamber music, one of Europe’s most coveted honors, for their debut album Masterpieces Among Peers: Trios by Frank Bridge and Johannes Brahms. Their album, particularly their performance of Brahms’ Trio in B major has been described as “a rendition that can actually stand comparison with some of the legendary recordings of the past, such as those by Heifetz, Feuermann and Rubinstein and Szigeti, Fournier and Schnabel” and was named by the German magazine, Fono Forum, as one of the 5 Best Albums of 2020.
The Formosa Quartet has been described as “spellbinding” (BBC Magazine) and “remarkably fine” (Gramophone). Over their two-decade history, the quartet has proven themselves masterful interpreters of the string quartet repertoire, giving performances that go “beyond the beautiful and into the territory of unexpectedly thrilling… like shots of pure espresso” (MUSO Magazine). The ensemble’s deep commitment to championing Taiwanese music, particularly the traditions of indigenous nations, has expanded to include the exploration of rich folk traditions and heritages found in America today. Always inspired by their insatiable search for the fresh and new in string quartet expression, the quartet brings audiences to their feet with their exclusive collection of folk, pop, jazz, and poetry arrangements. The Formosa Quartet has played a leading role in actively commissioning new works, contributing significantly to the modern string quartet repertory. Formosa’s 2019 milestone album From Hungary to Taiwan includes premiere recordings of three Formosa commissions: Lei Liang’s Song Recollections, Dana Wilson’s Hungarian Folk Songs, and Wei-Chieh Lin’s Five Taiwanese Folk Songs.
As a soloist and chamber musician, Deborah is passionate about lifting up the works of living composers and introducing valuable yet lesser-known musical compositions to worldwide audiences. Notable premieres include works by Jeffrey Mumford, Dana Wilson, Jonathan Crehan, Shih-Hui Chen, Lei Liang, and Clancy Newman. In May 2019, Ms. Pae premiered Mr. Mumford’s ‘of radiances blossoming in expanding air’, a concerto for cello and chamber orchestra with Phoenix Orchestra of Boston. Much of the work's harmonic material is based on the letters of her first name: D Eb Bb (or) A (h).
A graduate of the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, and an Associate Artist at the Chapelle Musicale Reine Elisabeth in Belgium, Ms. Pae is committed to mentoring the next generation of young artists. She is Associate Professor of Cello at Eastern Michigan University where she is a recipient of the 2021 Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Award, the highest honor Eastern Michigan University presents to an individual faculty member. She also serves on the faculty at the National Youth Orchestra of Canada,Formosa Chamber Music Festival,Taipei Music Academy & Festival, and Faculty Emeritus at the Perlman Music Program. Her mentors have included cellists Gary Hoffman, Laurence Lesser, Joel Krosnick, André Emelianoff, and Nellis Delay; violist Kim Kashkashian, and violinist Itzhak Perlman.
Arts advocacy is an important part of Deborah Pae’s musical life. She serves as Governor of the Recording Academy® Chicago Chapter Board and works closely with MusiCares, a non-profit that provides a safety net of critical health and welfare services to the music community. She also works with young professionals and educational institutions throughout the country giving instrumental masterclasses and workshops on career development, financial literacy, and team building.
Ms. Pae travels and performs with her trusty companion, a Vincenzo Postiglione cello (c. 1885) from Naples, Italy.
2021 Ronald W. Collins Distinguished Faculty Creative Activity Award
2020 German Record Critics Award / Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
2020 Fono Forum Magazine "5 Best Albums of 2020"
2019 Summer Research/Creative Activity Award; EMU Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research
2019 WQXR Best Classical New Releases of January 2019
2019 WFMT Chicago's Featured New Release
2017 Women in Philanthropy Award
2016 Tarisio Trust Young Artist Grant
2013 Diapason d'Or CD Award
2013 Klassiek Central Award
2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition
2010 2nd Prize, King International Competition
2006 1st Prize and Amadeus Prize, 10th London-Wigmore Hall String Quartet Competition