Praised by the London Times as "ravishing" , The New York Times for his "elegant, velvety tone" , The Los Angeles Times as "energetic and sassy...exceptional", and Seattle Times as "sublime" violist Yongjae O'Neill has distinguished himself as one of the great instrumentalists of his generation. An International Emmy Award winner, two-time Grammy nominee, and Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient, he has achieved recognition and critical acclaim not only as a champion of his instrument but as a social and musical ambassador as well. He has appeared as soloist with the London, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Euro-Asian Philharmonics; the BBC, KBS, Hiroshima and Korean Symphonies; the Moscow, Vienna, and Württemburg Chamber Orchestras; Alte Musik Köln and Kremerata Baltica, with conductors Andrew Davis, Miguel Harth Bedoya, Vladimir Jurowski, Vassily Sinaisky, Leonard Slatkin and Yannick Nezet-Seguin.
As recitalist, he has performed in many of the greatest halls of the world, including Carnegie, Alice Tully, Avery Fisher, Kennedy Center, Wigmore Hall, Salle Cortot, the Louvre, Madrid’s National Concert Hall, Buenos Aires's Teatro Colon, Tokyo’s International Forum and Opera City, Osaka Symphony Hall and Seoul Arts Center. An Artist of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as well as Principal Violist of the Camerata Pacifica, he frequently collaborates with the world's greatest musicians including Emanuel Ax, Jeremy Denk, Leon Fleisher, Warren Jones, Garrick Ohlsson, Menahem Pressler, Daniil Trifonov, Gidon Kremer, Steven Isserlis, Edgar Meyer and The Emerson Quartet, among many others. Festival appearances include Marlboro, Aspen, Bridgehampton, Casals, Chamber Music Northwest, Dresden, Great Mountains, La Folle Journée, La Jolla, Mecklenburg, Menlo, Moritzburg, Mostly Mozart, Prussia Cove, Saint Barthélemy, Saratoga, Seattle and Tongyeong.
A Universal/DG recording artist, he has made nine solo albums that have sold more than 200,000 copies and has remained for over a decade one of the best selling South Korean recording artists. Dedicated to the music of our time, he has worked with Mario Davidovsky, Jo Kondo, Chris Paul Harman, Matthias Pintscher, George Tsontakis, Melinda Wagner, and John Zorn, and has premiered works composed for him by Lera Auerbach, Elliott Carter, John Harbison, Huang Ruo, and Paul Chihara. In his tenth season as artistic director of DITTO he has introduced tens of thousands to chamber music in South Korea and Japan: highlights of this season include his first Beethoven Quartet Cycle with the Ehnes Quartet and collaborations with Stefan Vladar and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
The first violist to receive the Artist Diploma from Juilliard, he was honored with a Proclamation from the New York City Council for his achievement and contribution to the arts. He serves as Goodwill Ambassador for the Korean Red Cross, The Special Olympics, and UNICEF, and runs marathons for charity.