He was born in San Diego, California. His parents, natives of Taiwan, met as graduate students at Stanford University. He began his musical education at age 3 when his parents enrolled him in a violin class. At age 14 he won the San Diego Symphony's Young Arts Concerto Competition, which enabled him to appear with the orchestra in two series of concerts. He was also the featured soloist with the San Diego Youth Symphony on their tour of Austria, Germany, Hungary and the former Czechoslovakia.
He received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University, and a master's degree from the Juilliard School in 1997, where he is currently on the faculty. His principal teachers were Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang and Michael Tseitlin. He won the first prize at the International Tchaikovsky Competition, and the third place bronze medal (with $10,000) and the Josef Gingold Prize at the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis.
He has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and the Far East, appearing as soloist with such orchestras as the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, the Aspen Chamber Symphony, the San Diego Symphony, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, and the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra. He has released two recordings: a recital album and a disc of two Paganini concertos with the English Chamber Orchestra, both for the Ambassador label.
He became one of the Metropolitan Opera's concertmasters in 2000. On February 2, 2003, the occasion of a Met Orchestra performance, he made his Carnegie Hall solo debut playing Brahms's Concerto for Violin, Cello and Orchestra with Met colleague cellist Rafael Figueroa. He was the soloist in Sofia Gubaidulina's In Tempus Praesens (concerto for violin and orchestra) with the Met Orchestra in 2012. For Handel's Giulio Cesare, Chan appeared onstage in costume during one of David Daniels' arias to supply the obbligato violin part.
According to the Met's 2012 tax return, Chan earned $394,652 for that year, making him the "highest-paid rank-and-file musician."
Chan's career has included ample participation in chamber music. Articles from 1998 and 1999 show him as one of three members of the Emelin Trio. He has been a frequent guest at Japan's Pacific Music Festival, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, and La Jolla's SummerFest. He has also played chamber music with Lang Lang in a "Lang Lang With Friends" concert.
With the Met Chamber Ensemble, he has played in Alban Berg's Chamber Concerto for Piano and Violin with 13 Wind Instruments, Richard Strauss's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme suite, and other works, classical and contemporary.
In 2005 he joined the faculty of Juilliard.
After marrying his wife, violinist and Met colleague Catherine Ro, his father-in-law gave him a box of good wine. Once he joined the Met Orchestra, he befriended colleagues who were wine connoisseurs. His budding interest led to an obsession with Burgundy wine, to the point where he knew almost every vineyard on the Côte-d'Or.
His interest in wine led him to meet with Bernard Hervet, chief executive of Maison Faiveley, and Aubert de Villaine of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. Their meeting resulted in the founding of the festival Musique et Vin au Clos Vougeot in the Burgundy region of France, of which Chan is the music director.
- David Chan: La Campanella
- Beethoven: Violin Concerto (Park Avenue Chamber Symphony, David Bernard, conductor)
- Great Duos For Violin And Cello (with Rafael Figueroa, cellist)
- "The MET Orchestra - Sunday, December 2, 2012". Carnegie Hall. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-12-04.
- Eric Asimov, "The Pour: He Can Bring the Wine and the Music," New York Times (Nov. 19, 2008), p. D6.
- Juilliard Portraits: David Chan, Violin Faculty
- International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Laureates, 1994 competition: David Chan
- "Canadian Violinist Wins Indianapolis Contest," New York Times (Oct. 3, 1994), p. C16.
- "Entertainment Events," New York Times (Oct. 2, 1995), p. C15.
- Anthony Tommasini, "In Jodhpurs, Hailing Caesar With Seduction," New York Times (April 5, 2013), p. C1.
- Brian Wise, "Metropolitan Opera's Tax Filing Reveals Salary Details," Operavore (WQXR) (June 16, 2014).
- "Bard Festival Features Tchaikovsky," New York Times (Aug. 9, 1998), p. WE7.
- "'Doctor Dolittle' on Stage: Music," New York Times (Jul. 25, 1999), p. WE7.
- Steve Smith, "Pianists Of The Age Put On A Show," New York Times (Oct. 29, 2009), p. C5.
- Metopera Database, search on "David Chan."
- Rosi Hanson, "My Passion For Wine," Decanter.com (Jan. 16, 2009).
- The MET Orchestra, Sunday, December 2, 2012, Carnegie Hall, retrieved December 2, 2012
- International Violin Competition of Indianapolis Laureates: David Chan, International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, retrieved December 2, 2012
- Juilliard Portraits: David Chan, Violin Faculty, Juilliard School, retrieved December 2, 2012