When pianist Wendy Chen was 15, she made her debut with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under conductor Andre Previn. Two years later, she won the National Chopin Competition. Since then, some of her favorite performances included those with the Boston Pops, orchestras in New Zealand and South America and playing "Rhapsody in Blue" with Art Garfunkel in Wisconsin.
But Chen admitted that she gets to play one of her all-time favorite pieces at Strings in the Mountains Music Festival Park. Tonight, Chen and violinist Yehonatan Berick will play Respighi's "Sonata in B Minor for violin and piano" during the "Italian Night of Romance" program.
"It is an extremely lush and gorgeous piece that isn't played very often," Chen said, adding that it is a very difficult piece to learn for the violin and the piano.
Chen is making three chamber concert appearances at Strings in the Mountains this week during her festival debut. For Saturday night's "Folk Expressions" chamber concert, Chen will play DvorÃ¡k's "Piano Trio No. 3 in F Minor, Op. 65" along with Berick and cellist James Wilson. She also is participating in an intimate encore concert at the home of Bill and Marsha Link on Sunday, one of a series of special Strings in the Mountains concerts outside the festival park venue this summer.
Chen is originally from California and now lives in Phoenix. She said that playing chamber music is a welcome break from the solo recitals she typically plays.
"I love chamber music because I get to share the stage -- the inspiration," Chen said. But when Chen shared the stage with Garfunkel, the pianist said she was left "star struck."
Chen has performed in 35 states, including playing with the Utah Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, and the Cincinnati and Baltimore chamber orchestras. This season, Chen is working as a soloist with the Cincinnati Symphony, Phoenix Symphony and Wichita Symphony.
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