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National Symphony Orchestra to open new season, highlight violinists
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From left: Lü Shao-Chia, Hu Nai-yuan, Ray Chen and William Wei./Photo courtesy of CNA

Taipei, Sept. 15 (CNA) The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) will open its 2020-2021 season with concerts highlighting Taiwan-born violinists, after the group was forced to change its programming because foreign musicians originally booked for upcoming events are unable to travel to Taiwan.

"Now every concert can be a lesson of surprises, challenging our ability to adapt and creativity," said Lü Shao-Chia, the orchestra's artistic advisor during a press conference Tuesday.

Lü, who just finished a 10-year tenure as the orchestra's music director, has moved into a new role, while the group continues to search for his successor, and was speaking about the changes in the guest performers roster at the beginning of the new season.

For its season opening concert to be conducted by Lü at the National Concert Hall in Taipei on Saturday, the orchestra has enlisted the help of Taiwanese Australian violinist Ray Chen, after Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai was unable to come because the mandatory quarantine required for anyone entering Taiwan clashed with her other engagements.

The concert will still open with the originally planned piece by Paul Dukas, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," followed by Camille Saint-Saëns' Violin Concerto No. 3 in the revised program for Chen's guest appearance, according to the orchestra.

The second half of the concert will return to the original programming and feature Maurice Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloé," for which the orchestra will be joined by the Taipei Philharmonic Chorus.

The orchestra will then present two concerts featuring Chen and two other violinists of different generations, it said, one at Taipei's National Concert Hall on Sept. 25 and the other at the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts on Sept. 26.

Two of the three violinists are winners of the Queen Elisabeth International Competition -- Chen in 2009 and Hu Nai-yuan in 1985, while William Wei was named a laureate among the finalists in 2015, according to the orchestra.

The concert programs also deviate from initial planning, after baritone Thomas Hampton, who was set to appear as a guest performer, canceled his trip to Taiwan.

The first half of the concerts will feature three violin concertos, with Hu playing Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto No.2 in E major.

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