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Return of conductor Chen, colorful "Scheherazade" wrap up TSO's season

04.13.16
Mei-Ann Chen
Arizona Daily Star

Conductor Mei-Ann Chen has a great answer to the question of whether she misses performing violin.
No, the Taiwanese-American conductor who earned a performance degree in violin will tell you.

“In some ways, I have the biggest instrument on stage. I get to play every color possible, even though I’m not the one making sound,” she said last week as she prepared to return to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra for the classics series finale “Sailing with Scheherazade” this weekend. “I get to be part of the lower strings, the brass, the percussion. I love the whole palette of the orchestra,” she said.
 
This weekend, she will employ the full range of orchestral colors for Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade,” a symphonic suite that Chen described as a concerto for orchestra.

“This is a very risky piece because you don’t have control,” said Chen, music director of the Memphis Symphony and the Chicago Sinfonietta who guest conducted the TSO in 2012. “You can set the tempo and everybody either comes in with you or follows you. But this piece is more of a collaboration, and that’s what I love about it.”
“Scheherazade,” the Russian composer’s late 19th century retelling of the classic Persian tale of “One Thousand and One Nights,” assigns signature solo parts to the bassoon and violin, and solo turns to every section fo the orchestra.