It's not easy to arrange for Che-Yen Chen to come to town. He's one of the most highly respected violists in the country, so venues and orchestras are vying for his spare time. And because he has two regular jobs in two different countries — he's principal violist for the San Diego Symphony and he teaches at McGill University in Montreal — he doesn't have much spare time to begin with.
So it's pretty cool that local pianist extraordinaire Franz Mantini arranged for Chen to play two concerts here, at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Carrollwood Cultural Center, 4537 Lowell Road, Tampa, and at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tarpon Springs, 230 Grand Blvd. Chen will perform a Reger suite for viola and Mantini will join him on sonatas by Brahms and Franck.
Local music lovers will remember that Chen was the interim principal violist for the Florida Orchestra for the 1999-2000 season, and that he has played concerts here as part of a quartet. This is a rare opportunity to hear him play solo.
The Carrollwood concert is $15 or $10 for students, seniors, and center members; (813) 269-1310. The Tarpon Springs concert is free, though donations are welcome; (727) 937-4682.
Marty Clear, Times correspondent