Curtis Institute Showcases Talent Internationally With "Curtis on Tour"


Sharnita Midgett, for GPA -- Curtis Institute tours in the United States and Central America amazed audiences from May through July, in Paris and Spain, from Nantucket to Berlin.

As the global touring initiative of the Curtis Institute of Music, “Curtis On Tour” offers students real world, professional touring experience alongside celebrated alumni faculty. Students are also offered master classes, in-school demonstrations and other community engagement activities in addition to performances.

“Curtis on Tour” was established in 2008 and since then students, faculty and alumni have traveled to 44 destinations in Europe, Asia, North and South America to perform, with new international venues added each year. 

A recent student performer of “Curtis On Tour,” Catherine Chen, described the tours as a great time when a small group of artists starts to understand one another and come together for music making and the experience of a lifetime.

Chen, who was born in Taipei, entered the Curtis Institute of Music in 2010 and studies with Daniel Matsukawa, the principal bassoon for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Chen is the Gie and Lisa Liem Annual Fellow at the Curtis Institute. 

Extremely accomplished in her own right, Chen has been a soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Juilliard School's Pre-College Orchestra and The President's Own United States Marine Band. She has performed in Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall and at the Great Wall of China. She is second bassoon of Symphony in C, a professional training orchestra based in Camden, and has been principal bassoon for the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, New York String Seminar, the Juilliard School's Pre-College Symphony and Pre-College Orchestra, New York Youth Symphony and Youth Band for the United Nations.

While on tour with the Curtis Institute, Chen said she learned a lot and became close to a colleague who was a pianist. She said she grew as a person and a musician while being on the road and traveling through Costa Rica and Santa Monica.
She previously participated in an orchestra tour which included more people. Chen said she had less downtime because of a more rigorous travel and performance schedule. She also mentioned that some people had to adjust to changes in oxygen levels and other climate variables as they traveled to different areas.

The latest tour saw an impressive turnout in all venues, according to Chen, but the biggest audiences were in Boston, Cape Cod and California. The audience mostly consisted of older patrons, Chen noted, but in Costa Rica she found that the audience was mostly students.

For the next tour, the Curtis Institute returns to Asia this fall with a string sextet, performing in Hong Kong, Seoul and Taiwan. “The Curtis On Tour” ensemble includes violist, alumnus and institute president Roberto Díaz, violinist and alumna Eunice Kim and current students. They will play three Romantic masterworks: the Sextet from Strauss’s “Capriccio,” the Sextet in G major by Brahms and Tchaikovsky’s “Souvenir de Florence.” 

Photo courtesy of the Curtis Institute.