Chee-Yun is one busy woman |

Chee-Yun is one busy woman

Cassie Pence
Special to the Daily/Nancy EllisonViolinist Chee-Yun will only have one dress rehearsal before she performs with conductor Christopher Seaman and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Friday night. So is the life of a traveling musician.

VAIL – It’s surprising that out of all the places in the world to live, Korean violinist Chee-Yun chooses Houston, Texas, to finally settle. After all, this is a woman who travels about 270 days a year around the globe.”For me, it doesn’t matter where I live, as long as there’s an airport,” Chee-Yun said. Her husband, a pediatric surgeon, landed a job “he couldn’t refuse” in Texas, and the first-time home-buying couple just planted root. Boxes were still being unpacked Tuesday as I interviewed the 35-year-old musician. Despite the hot weather, Chee-Yun said, Houston actually has a lot to offer culturally.

Chee-Yun appears in Vail Friday with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, her seventh year with the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival. Bravo! is her third festival of the summer season with five left to go. Her summer schedule doesn’t stop until September, but she’ll be traveling to Texas in between appearances in hopes of getting the new house in order. Chee-Yun lives the life of a traveling musician. As opposed to playing the violin as a resident musician with one orchestra, Chee-Yun floats about national and international musical organizations as a featured soloist. It’s not because the traveling is glamorous – in fact Chee-Yun admits she usually only sees the route from the airport to the hotel to the concert hall and backstage in the places she visits. It’s because she loves the diversity of playing with different musicians that she endures such a tough travel schedule. Chee-Yun learns from each orchestra and symphony she plays with because they all have a different conductor, a different color, a different sound, she said.”If I’m playing the same concerto with three different orchestras, it’s never the same, and I don’t play the same each time anyway. I can’t. It’s not possible,” Chee-Yun said. “The more different ways or interesting ways to perform one concerto, the better it is for me. It opens my eyes to different possibilities. In turn, I walk away learning a lot more than when I first delved into it.”Chee-Yun’s been fortunate to never cross paths with a conductor with which she didn’t enjoy working. She admits it’s because she’s good at being adaptable and has an easy-going personality. But she still has her favorites.

“I really love working with Christopher Seaman,” Chee-Yun said. “They (The Rochester Philharmonic) are a tremendous orchestra, and they don’t have as big a reputation as the New York Philharmonic. Sometimes I feel like they’re even better with certain repertoire. And they’re even more caring and they’re very sensitive to a soloist. Maestro Seaman is so amazing to work with, so generous with his music, with his time, with his ideas. He’s so cheerful.”The Rochester Philharmonic and Chee-Yun will be performing Mendelssohn’s “Concerto in E Minor for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 64″ Friday at the Ford Amphitheater.”We haven’t worked on Mendelssohn before, but I look forward to it, because she’s such an elegant musicians,” Chee-Yun said.

In addition to her packed summer schedule, Chee-Yun as a CD featuring works by Brahms and Strauss due out this fall. She’s very conscious of the way she records because, she said, an album is something left behind from your career long after your gone.”The recordings that I really enjoy are the ones that were made a long time ago when they didn’t have the technology of editing so much, so every time you listen to it, it’s like going to a live performance. It’s so alive,” said Chee-Yun. “That’s the kind of recording that I want to leave behind.”Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or

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