Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mozart on the Mountain

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Mozart on the Mountain

Article excerpt

As a child growing up in Brisbane, Australia, Ray Chen, the son of Taiwanese parents, was enrolled in the Suzuki music program, a popular and rigorous instructional program for string musicians.

Upon completion of each book in the program, students would receive a certificate with Mount Fuji in the background.

"I always imagined that Mozart was waiting for me at the very top," said Chen, who will be violin soloist at next weekend's nearly sold-out Sarasota Orchestra Masterworks concerts.

Mozart has formed the backbone of Chen's career ever since he graduated in 2010 from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he maintains an apartment and permanent address even as he roams the world as a soloist. He'll be in Sarasota next weekend to perform the Violin Concerto No. 4 in D Major with the Sarasota Orchestra under the baton of Anu Tali, leading her second and final concert series of her first season as music director for the orchestra.

"I love this concerto," said Tali, mentioning that it held a special place in her heart because it was the last piece a friend of hers played before he put down his violin.

"I'm really looking forward to hearing Ray Chen play it and making music together with him," she said.

Mozart's compositional style is so distinctive that it leaves soloists little room for interpretation, said Chen.

"The style is so clear, it's irrefutable," he said. "I really admire that about him."

Where the soloist has some wiggle room is in the cadenzas, parts of the work intentionally left open by the composer for improvisation or creation by the performer.

"It's such a good opportunity to have this extra connection with the composer," said Chen. "By analyzing further his structure, the way he writes, because you can't just write a cadenza based on nothing. By writing cadenzas, you learn so much more about the composer, adding a whole new dimension to the piece. …

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