Meet Emily Chao, TSO’s Associate Concertmaster for the 2024-25 season

by Tucson Symphony
Meet Emily Chao, TSO’s Associate Concertmaster for the 2024-25 season

What has playing with the TSO been like for you so far? What about the Associate Concertmaster role are you most looking forward to?

Playing with the TSO has been my favorite job ever; I’ve learned so much. Since I joined in 2017 I’ve been lucky to play second violin, first violin and even viola in the orchestra, and I love playing a new program every week, with different conductors and all different genres of music. I never get bored, because even if this week’s music isn’t my exact cup of tea, all I have to do is wait till next week!

Honestly, I’m really looking forward to being stand partners with Lauren Roth. She’s such a fabulous player and a wonderful leader… so next year I’ll have the best seat in the house!

What/who inspired you to pursue music professionally?

I went to a chamber music summer festival called ARIA in London, Ontario as a young teenager and fell in love with the process of working deeply on a piece of music with my friends, really taking it apart and trying to figure out how we could make it more beautiful. I thought, if I could do this every day for the rest of my life it would be a perfect life.

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve ever received?

Stumbling on the poem “The Sunrise Ruby ” by Rumi completely changed my relationship to music. To me, it’s about complete devotion to your practice, to the point of becoming one with it, and the joy that springs forth when you do so.

Which concert(s) did you enjoy the most from the 23-24 season? Which concert(s) from the 24-25 season are you most looking forward to?

I loved the Masterworks concert with Barber’s Symphony No 1, Higdon’s Cold Mountain Suite and Copland Appalachian Spring, so much gorgeous American music stuffed into one program. I also loved the Scottish program with Mei-Ann Chen. Mendelssohn is one of my favorite composers and Mei-Ann Chen is so warm and inspiring–she always makes us feel like we can do anything. Next season, I can’t wait for Paul Huang to come back and play with us again. He’s my favorite violinist and he plays with such effortless elegance and heart-stopping sincerity. Also really excited for Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra, such a dynamic piece that really shows off what a full orchestra can do.

What is your favorite thing about Tucson?

I love the year-round sunshine and being surrounded by mountains on all sides–in the springtime it feels like I’m being cradled by nature.

Will you be performing at any music festivals this summer?

No, I like to take the summers off to follow my curiosity and work on my own personal projects. For example, I’m excited to be performing a recital of my husband John Muniz’s compositions in San Francisco in June. Also, I’ll be touring Japan with the Tucson Repertory Orchestra in July.