Chicago Symphony Orchestra thrilled by ‘perfect tour’

MUSIC ON THE MOVE::The orchestra, which includes two local members, is to make its Taipei debut today as part of a tour which will also take it to China and South Korea

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jan 25, 2013 - Page 5

The president of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra yesterday said the orchestra was thrilled to be on what she called a “perfect tour” of Taiwan, with performances scheduled for today and tomorrow in Taipei.

“We have never been to Taipei. We have always wanted to be in Taipei,” Deborah Rutter said at a press conference, adding that the orchestra’s principal percussionist, Cynthia Yeh (葉孟芸), and concertmaster, Robert Chen (陳慕融), are both from Taiwan.

“When we think about touring, where we go and why we go, this tour represents exactly the perfect tour,” Rutter said.

Finnish conductor Osmo Vanska will lead the orchestra in place of Italian Riccardo Muti, who is being treated for a hernia.

Vanska said he was asked just a week ago to substitute, but it took him only a few seconds to agree.

He said he was “extremely happy” to be in Taiwan and hoped the orchestra could “find a good language with music” to communicate with the local audience.

The programs are designed so that everyone — frequent concert-goers as well as first-timers — can enjoy the music, Vanska said.

He said the short rehearsal time would be a challenge for him, but he was not stressed because he had conducted all the pieces many times before.

Yeh, who was born in Taiwan, said that when she left the country 25 years ago, the National Concert Hall where the orchestra will perform was still under construction.

“I’m just extremely honored and happy to be here,” Yeh said.

The orchestra will present a classical music program today and hold an evening of Beethoven the following night.

Among the pieces to be featured in the concerts are Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C major (“Jupiter”), Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D major, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major (“Eroica”).

In the Mendelssohn piece today, Chen will play the violin solo.

Chen has been concertmaster of the orchestra since 1999, according to Management of New Arts, the concerts’ promoter.

Russian violinist Maxim Vengerov will be featured in the orchestra’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major tomorrow.

Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has made about 40 overseas tours since 1971. Taipei is the first leg of the orchestra’s Asian tour, which also includes cities in China and South Korea.