“The last time Chicago Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Robert Chen played his hometown—Taipei, Taiwan—the stakes were rather high,” writes Howard Reich in Tuesday’s (1/8) Chicago Tribune. “Music director Riccardo Muti abruptly had bowed out of the orchestra’s 2013 Asia tour due to emergency hernia surgery…. CSO management hit on an ingenious idea: Ask Chen to step up as violin soloist in the city where he was born and spent the first 10 years of his life…. The episode plays on Chen’s mind as he prepares to return to Taipei, where the CSO will launch its forthcoming Asia tour on Jan. 19…. When the big moment came [in 2013], ’It felt a little bit like a dream,’ says Chen, 49…. This time around … Chen and the orchestra will play tour-opening concerts with their music director in Taipei, the second (Jan. 20) featuring Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Scheherezade’ [with] the extensive solo passages for violin placing Chen in a spotlight he’ll reclaim when the musicians return to Taipei.” Says Chen, “Whenever you go on tour to a place that’s not home, one’s desire is always to bring something to the public…. The more you give, the more you get in return.”

Posted January 9, 2019