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Betty Chen, First Violin

Violinist Betty Chen joined the Kansas City Symphony in 2016. Chen has played as a soloist with the New Jersey Symphony under Neeme Järvi, Alastair Willis and Emil de Cou, and in venues such as Avery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Jordan Hall, and the Trenton War Memorial. An enthusiastic chamber musician, Chen has joined the Sejong Soloists for tours and recording engagements. She also enjoys collaborating with friends in performing new music, especially with her husband, pianist Sean Chen. Before joining the Kansas City Symphony, Chen was a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. She studied with Naoko Tanaka and Hyo Kang, receiving her bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School and her master’s degree from the Yale School of Music as a George W. Miles Fellowship recipient.

Ten questions about me:

What is your favorite thing about performing music?

Everyone is in the same place, experiencing something together that can only happen in that moment.

What good book have you read recently?

Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger

Are you the only musician in your family?

My husband is my favorite pianist! He plays all around the country and also teaches at UMKC.

What is the best part of being a musician in the Kansas City Symphony?

The city, the hall, and the people.

When you were young, did you enjoy practicing?


What is your earliest musical memory?

Learning how to read music by jumping on five lines of tape my teacher had pasted on the floor to represent the staff (I was the note).

What's your "top pick" for downtown dining, or for a post-concert drink or dessert?

Rye, or Café Gratitude for a meal you’ll feel still good about afterwards.

Who do you look to for inspiration?

It's different every day. I think seeing anyone putting their best effort into something inspires me to do the same, so it could be anyone on any day - my colleagues, friends, family, or strangers. Same answer for musical inspiration.

If I weren't a professional musician, my occupation would be:

I would love to be an animator for Pixar or Ghibli or something like that, but realistically I'd probably be unemployed.

What is your most memorable performance with the Kansas City Symphony?

Probably my first one, because I was the most nervous!