Sat. May 24, 2014, 8 PM
Jordan Hall,
New England Conservatory

Sean Chen, piano
Crystal winner of
the 14th Van Cliburn Piano Competition 2013





Master Class
by Sean Chen




Crystal Award Winner
Fourteenth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition

Johann Sebastian Bach
(1685 – 1750)
Adagio, BWV 968
Ricercar a 3 from Das Musikalisches Opfer
Claude Debussy
(1862 – 1918)
Suite bergamasque
    Clair de lune

Aaron Copland
(1900 – 1990)
Piano Variations

Alexander Scriabin
Valse in A-flat Major, op. 38
Frédéric Chopin
Impromptu No. 1 in A-flat Major, op. 29
Impromptu No. 2 in F-sharp Major, op. 36
Impromptu No. 3 in G-flat Major, op. 51
Fantaisie-impromptu No. 4 in C-sharp Minor, op. 66
Maurice Ravel
La Valse (arr. Sean Chen)

Mr. Sean Chen will give a Master Class
Arranged by Artemisia Foundation

on Sunday, May 25th, 2014, 2:30-5 PM
at M. Steinert & Sons
The Steinert Hall, 3rd Floor
162 Boylston Street, Boston

Admission $18
Admittance at 2:30 only

"Sean Chen has been an audience favorite from the early rounds. With his floppy hair and outstanding stage presence combined with an extraordinary technique and musicianship, this is little wonder." -Gregory Isaacs, TheaterJones

SEAN CHEN, pianist

Sean Chen captivated audiences and critics at the 2013 Cliburn Competition with concerts “that had the crowd not just standing…but cheering loudly” (KDHX, St. Louis), earning the crystal award and winning three years of concert tours in the United States—the first American to win a prize since 1997. Markedly, in his Final Round performance of Rachmaninov’s Concerto No. 3, “he summoned massive, orchestral sonorities, yet he could also play with enormous delicacy. It was a muscular, impassioned performance, and you felt like he is an artist with something to say” (Cincinnati Enquirer).

Highlights of the 2013–14 season include return invitations to perform with the Indianapolis and Fort Worth Symphony Orchestras, performances at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and Jordan Hall in Boston, and recital and concerto appearances across the United States and Europe. Also part of his prize package, recording label harmonia mundi will release a live CD of his Competition performances in fall 2013, featuring works by Brahms, Beethoven, and Bartók.

Also as the 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association, Mr. Chen has previously performed with several orchestras, including the Fort Worth Symphony, Indianapolis Chamber, Indianapolis Symphony, Juilliard, New West Symphony, and Suwon Philharmonic, working with such conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Gerard Schwartz, and Boris Brott. He has presented solo recitals in Albuquerque, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and Taipei, among other cities.

An advocate of new music, he has worked with several composers to perform their works, including Michael Williams, Nicco Athens, Michael Gilbertson, and Reinaldo Moya. A recording featuring the solo works of Michael Williams on the Parma label is forthcoming.

Born in Florida, Mr. Chen grew up in Oak Park, California and has collected awards that include the 2010 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, Los Angeles Music Center’s Spotlight Award, and an NFAA ARTSweek award. He now resides in New Haven, Connecticut, where he is pursuing his artist diploma at the Yale School of Music under Hung-Kuan Chen. He previously studied with Jerome Lowenthal and Matti Raekallio at The Juilliard School, where he earned his bachelor’s degree.

Press Quotes

“Sean Chen has been an audience favorite from the early rounds. With his floppy hair and outstanding stage presence combined with an extraordinary technique and musicianship, this is little wonder.” – Gregory Isaacs, TheaterJones

“Sean Chen brought everything to a rousing close with a Rachmaninov 3rd that had the crowd not just standing (which they did for every performance) but cheering loudly.” –
Chuck Lavazzi, KDHX

“By the time we were a few bars into the Allemande of the Bach French Suite No. 5, I knew we were in the hands of a mature and nuanced player. Chen kept the Baroque sensibility while highlighting what our instrument has to offer: shading, subtle variations in tone, a multitude of articulations, and a wealth of  dynamics. As a bonus, his playing inspired me to think, ‘He swings!’ He swung in the Courante, he swung in the Gigue—he had rhythmic vitality to spare.” –
Susan Geffen, Clavier Companion

“Sean Chen performed Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3. In the first movement cadenza, he summoned massive, orchestral sonorities, yet he could also play with enormous delicacy. It was a muscular, impassioned performance, and you felt that he is an artist with something to say.” –
Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer

“Chen shaped his phrases masterfully and displayed technical prowess as well as an ear for lyricism. He’s not only an artist with flair, but he also knows how to collaborate with an orchestra, and rarely took his eyes off of Slatkin. His phrasing breathed, and he also knew where to build momentum.” –
Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer

“There’s an undeniable spark in Chen’s playing that keeps the ears engaged.” –
Donald Rosenberg, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“Sean Chen continued his exceptional ability to connect with an audience combined with an easy virtuosity to bring the house down with Rach 3.”
– Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post

“Sean Chen, the lone remaining American contestant (one has not won since 1997) and coming off a $100,000 triumph in Indianapolis's APA Competition, showed energy and eloquence in Beethoven's Emperor.”
Laurence Vittes, Huffington Post

a virtual journal and essential blog of the classical music scene in greater Boston
Lee Eiseman, publisher; Robert Levin, advisor; David Moran, assisting editor; Bettina A. Norton, emerita editor

May 27, 2014
in: Reviews

Sean Chen, a Pianist with Flash
by David Moran

Sean Chen is another dashing young American pianist with formidable chops, and his Chinese Performing Arts Foundation recital Saturday night at Jordan Hall contained many moments of aspiringly throwback playing, long of line and rich of tone. A Juilliard graduate now going for his artist diploma at Yale and a Van Cliburn laureate, he clearly has the flash, substance, looks and hair to have a significant career in a crowded field.

Chen’s traditional program ranged from Bach to Copland to Ravel/Chen. Beginning the evening were the Adagio S.968 and the three-voice fugue from The Musical Offering. With indistinct fingerwork and overpedaling, it was not a promising start; even given Chen’s old-fashioned emphasizing of leading voices, Bach’s textures wanted profile and strength. Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque similarly sounded meh to my ear, low in finish, albeit with some color. (In his hands the hall’s Hamburg Steinway was unusually multi-hued.)

Copland’s 1930 Piano Variations comprise an orderly, difficult, abstract set of sounds; Walter Gieseking refused the composer’s request to premiere it, owing to its severity and “crude dissonances” (while Leonard Bernstein later said that, “harsh and wonderful,” it was “prophetic”). From Chen they did sound terrific: the pianist likes the piece, obviously enjoyed it with full engagement and brio, his playing coming to life in confidence and viewpoint. Although other performances emphasize musicality more, I’d like to hear this one again. Scriabin’s op. 38 Valse also danced in a beautifully assured and pointed rendition, looking ahead to Gershwin: rarefied cocktail music. So maybe the Bach and Debussy deficits that I sensed had to do with warmup.

Chopin’s Impromptus may have lacked the highest level of power but did feature Golden Age singing runs (if you buy Harold Schonberg’s historical notions), suppleness of rhythm, strings of pearls, and tonal blur in the good senses. The pianist’s own arrangement of Ravel’s La Valse is, he told us, designed to be denser and more orchestral than other versions, and without making comparisons, it certainly sounded chockablock with thundering effects, left hand intrigue, clever polyphony. Finally playing full out, Chen knocked it out of the hall. An astounding technique was revealed, about the equal of anyone’s.

For his encore, Chen probingly read Mozart’s Fantasy in D Minor, whose strange, improvisatory opening with the composer noodling Bach, soon lets down into an elegance of melancholy. A fine close to a most impressive debut.

Chen likes to chat before pieces, which, for the future of classical audiences, is probably a good thing for any 25-year-old artist to do. (Especially absent consistently interesting program notes.) But as several people in the audience noted, he really needs to step it up: louder, clearer, more articulate, as well as more contentful.

David Moran has been an occasional Boston-area music critic for 45 years, with special interest in the keyboard.

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青年鋼琴 家陳宣堯波士頓首演獨奏會
2014-05-27 14:27

本報記者菊子波 士頓報道:甫從耶魯大學畢業的青年鋼琴家陳宣堯, 五月廿四日晚在新英格蘭音樂學院喬丹廳舉辦波士頓首演獨奏會, 博得 全場起立鼓掌的讚許, 謝幕不下二次。

父母來自台灣, 在佛羅里達出生,  加州長大的陳宣堯, 在學習鋼琴, 出外演奏上, 經驗豐富。 2010年就獲得保羅和菊花索羅斯獎學金(Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship), 洛杉磯音樂中心的聚光燈(Spotlight)獎, 以及NFAA的藝術周獎 。 2011年時, 他獲得首爾鋼琴大賽第2名, 並應邀到 台北國家音樂廳舉行獨奏會。 2013年再獲克萊本(Van Cliburn)大賽水晶獎, 贏得在美國巡迴演奏三年的機會。

中華表演基金會會長譚嘉陵指出, 自從 1997年以後, 克萊本大賽就一直沒有美國人得獎, 陳宣堯在2013年時代表美國再次奪得此獎, 讓辛辛那提報 (Cincinnati Enquirer)大讚他是「一個有話要說的藝術家」。

當年升讀大學時, 陳宣堯同時獲得哈佛 大學, 麻省理工學院的錄取書, 但他選擇追求音樂發展, 進了茱莉亞音樂學院。 他認為音樂家應涉獵各方面知識, 最好不只會彈 琴, 還會作曲, 懂得欣賞文學。 從朱莉亞畢業後, 他轉赴耶魯大學修讀藝術文憑, 追隨鋼琴名師陳宏寬深造。

廿五日晚, 陳宣堯在兩百多名觀眾面前 演奏巴哈(Johann Sebastian Bach)的慢板BWV968, 德彪西(Claude Debussy)的貝加馬斯克組曲, 科普蘭(Aaron Copland)的鋼琴變奏曲, 無調性音樂先驅斯克里亞賓(Alexander Scriabin)的A大調圓舞曲, 蕭邦的即興曲和即興幻想曲, 拉威爾的圓舞曲等 。 其中拉威爾圓舞曲還是陳宣堯重新組合的新作 。

陳宣堯在演奏各曲目時, 或輕柔, 或急 促, 時如行雲流水, 偶若湍流激盪, 都讓座中懂音樂的人, 聽得投入, 還在音樂會結束時, 紛紛起立鼓掌。

演奏會結束後, 到後台排向音樂家致意 的人中, 有一名西人父親帶著一身大禮服, 打著領結的兒子來請教, 怎樣在彈奏音樂時, 有自己的發現。 另一名非裔年輕人還認 真拿出自己做的筆記, 請陳宣堯簽名。

在中華表演藝術基金會會長譚嘉陵的邀 約下, 當晚出席的觀眾中, 有好幾位音樂名人, 包括波士頓愛樂青年管弦樂團指揮Benjamin Zander, 新英格蘭音樂學院指揮Mark Churchill, 在廣播電台做樂評, 曾任紐約時報記者的著名媒體人Chris Lydon, 以及鋼琴家Tema Blackstone。 以年齡而言, 算是陳宣堯師弟, 師妹, 一同追隨陳宏寬學鋼琴的黎卓宇, 牛牛, Vanessa Meiling Haynes等人, 當晚也都在座。

查詢中華表演基金會詳情, 可上網。


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查 詢: 中華表演藝術基金會會長譚嘉陵, 電話: 781-259-8195, 傳真: 781-259-9147,


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