Paula Fan retired from the TSO in 2017.
Pianist Paula Fan has performed as soloist and chamber musician on five continents. She has recorded seventeen albums and has broadcast for the BBC, NPR, Radio Television China and other international stations. A Regents’ Professor of Music at the University of Arizona, where she has been on the faculty since 1976, she coordinates musical events at Biosphere 2 and is a founding member of the Solar Storytellers, a solar powered piano trio sponsored by the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy. When not teaching, performing chamber music or occupying her chair at the Tucson Symphony Orchestra where she is Principal Keyboardist, she can be found tracking animals for the Earthwatch Institute or collecting cats—she has 22!
What music is on your iPod?
Hmmmmm, actually I don’t listen much. Too much going on in my head!
What was your first musical experience as performer or audience member?
My mother tells me that I came home from Kindergarten commenting that the lady who played the piano wasn’t very good. Never mind that I had never had any lessons. Opinionated from the beginning!
Why did you choose your instrument?
We rented a house with a piano in it when I was eight. I asked for lessons.
What is your favorite music to perform? Genre or specific piece.
I love performing with interesting musicians–never mind the piece. I am partial to art song, though, and I get a kick out of performing my brother’s very clever and entertaining pieces for children, both as pianist and actor.
What do you do besides music?
I’m a teacher, interested in things interdisciplinary, probably the result of a very short attention span. I’m a founding members of The Solar Storytellers, a solar powered piano trio. Each year I volunteer with Earthwatch on summer expeditions having to do with wildlife. Last summer it was Mongolia (Argali sheep, Mongolian hamsters and Daurian Hedgehogs) and the previous year, Madagascar and its largest predator, the fosa. This July I plan to whistle with the marmots in the French Alps!
Where did you go to school?
B.M., University of Arizona
M.M. and D.M.A., University of Southern California
What are your favorite places in Tucson?
Wherever there is good food and/or interesting company, or at home with my large, furry family of cats.