Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: Taiwanese Pianist Rueibin Chen Hands Masterful Performance at The Wallis



Classical music is seen by many as a white European art form and its audience made up of mostly older fans. Symphony halls and other venues offering this type of music are trying their best to see how to pull in a younger and more diverse audience.
There is one ethnic group though that not only attends these concerts in large numbers but has produced many of today’s most important classical music artists and whose presence in symphony orchestra musicians may be the highest. Asian and Asian-Americans comprise the youngest demographic group attending classical concerts and many of the hot classical performers are coming from this community.
These artists include Chinese pianists Yuja Wang, Lang Lang, cellist Yo Yo Ma (French born of Chinese parents) amongst others.
One of Taiwan’s best pianists, Rueibin Chen performed two sold-out nights at The Bram Goldsmith Theater at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills on Thursday and Friday evening.
A Chinese-Austrian born in Taiwan, Chen has a reputation for a brilliant technique and intense artistic expression as well as an expertise on the works of Russian composer, conductor and master pianist Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, whose date of death in this city of Beverly Hills coincided with Friday’s performance.
Chen’s selected program titled “Total Rachmaninoff” began with three of Rachmaninoff Preludes, which were written for solo piano. “Prelude in G Major Opus 32 No. 5″ began with a soft, rain-like sound with multiple layers, followed by “Prelude in D Major Opus 23 No. 4,” which had a fuller and stronger sound showcasing Chen’s virtuosity. A more lyrical and melodic piece was “Prelude in D Major Opus 23 No. 4,” which was the longest of the three.
The “Three Nocturne Opus I” (1887), a premier for California, is regarded as the first serious attempt by the composer to write for the piano at all 14-years of age. These included “No.1 in F-sharp Minor,” “No. 2 in F Major” and “No. 3 in C Minor.” The pieces vary in tone and speed from a slow, soft, gentle sound to a full one with increase speed and complexity that Chen was able to transmit with great artistry and command.
“Lilacs Opus 21 No.” was a beautiful, contemplative melody with a more modern feel while the following piece, “Gavotte from Partita No. 3 in E Major,” was a baroque number by Johan Sebastian Bach; it was originally for lute and was transcribed by Rachmaninoff for piano. In “Etude-Tableau in D Major Opus 39,” Chen showcased a very animated, virtuoso technique in fast pace that increased with complexity as time went on.
After the intermission, the audience was treated to several other transcribed pieces for piano by Rachmaninoff such as “Lullaby” by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and “Minuet from L’Arlesienne” by French composer Gerge Bizet. These were followed by two intense pieces by Austrian-born violinist and composer Fritz Kreisler, a contemporary of Rachmaninoff whose “Liebesleid” (Love’s Sorrow) and “Liebesfreud” (Love’s Joy) were packed with layers of complexities and so much power that Chen’s cufflinks flew off of his wrists.
After two standing ovations, Chen finally addressed the audience in his limited English thanking them for attending the concert and The Wallis for hosting him that evening. Not to disappoint he turned to the piano and gave a haunting version of Polish composer Frédéric Chopin’s “Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Op. 35,” popularly known as The Funeral March.
Fortunately, the evening’s selections and compositions of Vasilievich Rachmaninoff, interpreted in the power and artistry of Chen, had all in the audience “living it up.”

Sunday, April 6, 2014

PROFILE: Rueibin Chen A look at a former prodigy’s career as an international concert pianist

 PROFILE: Rueibin Chen 
A look at a former prodigy’s career as an international concert pianist
Taipei Times , Sat, Apr 05, 2014
Photo : 
Rueibin Chen is an internationally acclaimed touring concert pianist.
Photo courtesy of Capriccio

Rueibin Chen (陳瑞斌) is on a brief stop in Taiwan to see immediate family, before flying out for two sold-out recitals to open the Wallis Annenberg Center in California. He is a former prodigy with a crown-jewel job, a solo pianist who follows gigs from one continent to the next.
When I meet him, he is a bit jet-lagged. He doesn’t sound like the way he plays, which the Boston Globe hails as “white-hot energy, steel-fingered, power and athletic virtuosity.” Offstage, he is a plain-spoken Greater Tainan native with good manners and a slight stammer, who is apparently without the motivation to punch up his statements and make a dazzling impression. He ends long sentences deferentially: “I don’t know the words to express it.”

The son of a public-school music teacher, Chen took up piano at five years old and learned instinctively, making his stage debut with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra at age 10. Shortly afterward, his father wanted to give him a shot at making it in Vienna.
“My father made the decision. I was 13 and couldn’t say no, I didn’t have a choice … Once I was there, I had to finish my education, otherwise how could I find a job?” Chen says.
For the next few years, Chen studied unaccompanied at the Vienna Conservatory under a special waiver of age requirement. In between classes, the teen struggled to find rice at the supermarket and tried to learn German. He also searched for appropriate places to practice his etudes.
“When you are playing piano, you bother your neighbors,” Chen says. “I was evicted many times.”
Meanwhile, he wanted to go home.
“I was so far from Taiwan. When I was little I liked playing Rachmaninoff and Chopin, and I felt that we shared a culture,” he says.
“Rachmaninoff went from Moscow to California’s Beverly Hills, and he never went back. Even though it was so sunny and beautiful there, what he composed was depressive and deep. You could tell that this person was never very happy because he could not go back.”

These days, with at least one major engagement per month, Chen is perpetually jet lagged and often spends nights practicing while his home time zone rests.
It’s a solitary lifestyle similar to his childhood in Vienna, with the difference that he has the means to fly to Taiwan whenever he wants. He treats his career like a nine-to-five job, dedicating regular hours and creating timely programs that match the needs of audiences.
“I want to deliver good music to people,” he says. “Taiwanese audiences have a very high expectation of me, because they are familiar with my sound. They want something different each time. I want to create something different each time.”
His latest major tour marks Rachmaninoff’s 140th anniversary. It’s a popular program, and he is among the world’s best at this repertoire — in 1984, he became the youngest winner of the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition in Italy.
But Chen’s relationship with music has moved beyond his years as a prodigy. In some ways, music has become a much more private matter.
“For example, the older I get, the more I like Brahms,” he says.
“Some composers have a knack for sharing, and have the ability to create communion — for instance Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky, they spark chemistry with an audience. But others don’t have that quality, for instance Brahms,” he says.
“For an outdoor concert for 2,000 people, you would not hear anybody performing Brahms, because he is indirect with the emotions. Yet you can hear him when you listen by yourself behind a closed door,” Chen says.
He can now appreciate Vienna, in which the majority of people could not play classical music but were taught how to approach and engage with it. In Taiwan, many children like himself were taught to perform, but not to listen. Most eventually quit, he says.
“It’s more fortunate to have a relationship with music throughout your life,” he says.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Rueibin Chen — An Evening of Rachmaninoff – Los Angeles concert music report

Archive for Music - Arts Beat LA
Rueibin Chen — An Evening of Rachmaninoff – Los Angeles concert music report
Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

An exciting concert to honor the legendary Russian composer Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff is set for later this month.
Internationally acclaimed pianist Rueibin Chen will perform an evening ofRachmaninoff’scompositions at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts as part of its inaugural season onThursday, March 27 andFriday, March 28 at 8pm. Honoring Rachmaninoff’s140th anniversary, Chen has been touring worldwide performing programs dedicated to the composer. He is the first pianist to perform Rachmaninoff’sthree Nocturnes in Asia and California, USA. His 2014 world tour will include in Greater China, performing concertos with orchestras as well as solo recitals.

About the performer:
Chen is the best-selling classical musician in Greater China in CD recording, having produced a dozen CD recordings with various labels, such as Universal, Naxos International, KKM Austria, and Jingo Records, recording works by Chopin, Liszt, Wagner-Liszt, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky and Piazolla, as well as his own transcriptions. His concerts have been broadcast on many radio and television programs throughout Europe, Asia, America, and Australia.

Chen was invited to be the opening soloist in the 2010 World Expo in China, performing the Yellow River Concerto. Critics hailed it as the best performance of the iconic piece in its history. His masterful performances of Rachmaninoff’s complete piano concertos (including the PaganiniRhapsody Op. 43) in two consecutive nights at Taiwan’s National Concert Hall garnered significant critical acclaim. Throughout his career, Chen’s musicianship has been highly praised by many renowned musicians and critics.

Chen tours regularly throughout the world, performing in major concert halls, such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, Kennedy Performing Arts Center in Washington, D.C., Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, Kodak Theater in Hollywood, Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, Musikverein and Konzerthaus in Vienna, Gewandhaus in Leipzig, Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, Opera de Monte Carlo, Warsaw Philharmonie, Bolshoi Hall in Moscow, F. Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Symphony Hall in Osaka, Hong Kong Cultural Center, Beijing Music Hall, National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center in Taipei, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, and the Sydney Opera House. He has held various artist-in-residence positions for various entities, including Hong Kong Radio Television, and he has acted as music director of various chamber festivals.

He has been selected as the soloist for many orchestral world tours, including the Taipei Symphony on its Asian tour, Kaohsiung City Traditional Orchestra of Taiwan on its America tour and its Australia tour, the Evergreen Symphony, and the Taipei Symphony on their China tours. Chen has worked with many renowned conductors, such as Sergiu Comissiona, Antoni Wit, Pavel Kogan, Joseph Silverstein, and András Ligeti.

Rueibin Chen, Piano
An Evening of Rachmaninoff
Bram Goldsmith Theater, Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Two performances ONLY:
Thursday, March 27
Friday, March 28
Prices: $49.00, $69.00, $89.00
In Person – Wallis Annenberg Box Office,
9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
By Phone – 310-746-4000
Purchase online here.

A Chinese Austrian born in Taiwan, Chen won a total of eighteen medals, five of them gold, before the age of 20 in international piano competitions in Tel Aviv (Rubinstein), Warsaw (Chopin), Salt Lake City (Bachauer), Athens (Callas), Vienna, Manresa, and Italy (Rome, Rachmaninoff, Bellini, and Stresa), to name a few.

Chen received his first piano lessons from his father when he was five. At the age of thirteen, he was selected by the government in a national talent search and was sent to Vienna, Austria, where he obtained a concert diploma from the Vienna Conservatory. Subsequently, he received a soloist’s examination award from the Hannover Hochschule für Musik in Germany and then continued his study under the late legendary Russian pianist Lazar Berman as his only disciple of Asian descent.

In addition to his masterful artistry, Chen’s humble background and the hardship he endured as a youngster growing up in Europe all by himself have inspired many young pianists, both in Asia and abroad. His unique blend of East/West sensibility, his Chinese heritage, his European upbringing and training, his modest personality and his inspiring personal story have earned him a significant following all over the world.

Chen started his career as a child prodigy and concert pianist at age ten when he made his debut with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. He was named the Principal Soloist of “Moldova” Iasi and Tirgu Mures Philharmonic Orchestra in Romania. He has appeared as a soloist with many orchestras around the world, including the Utah Symphony, Budapest Symphony, Prague Symphony, Czech State Philharmonic of Brno, Moscow State Symphony, Russian State Symphony, Singapore Symphony, New Philharmonia Japan, Shanghai Symphony, National Symphony Taiwan, Taipei Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, and London Chamber Players, among others.

Chen made his European debut to much acclaim in the Grossensaal of the Konzerthaus in Vienna in 1984. He has been invited to perform at many festivals, such as the International Salzburg Music Festival, Vienna Spring Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Hong Kong Festival, Taipei Music Festival, Taipei Arts Festival, the International Rachmaninoff Music Festival in Moscow, the Janáček Music Festival in the Czech Republic (formerly Czechoslovakia), the Chopin Festivals in Austria, Czech Republic and Poland, various festivals in Romania, and the Auckland International Piano Festival.
He has participated at many internationally and historically significant events, including his performances as the designated soloist of the 75th Anniversary Celebration of Turkey and the designated soloist for the Macau-China Reunification Celebration Ceremony.

In recent years, in addition to his solo recitals and orchestral performances of classical repertoire, Chen has devoted much effort to the collaboration and premiering of new solo and piano concerto works. Critically-acclaimed new piano concerto compositions, such as the Love River Concerto, which depicts the fondness for a famous river in Taiwan, and the Winter Trilogy, written to celebrate the Hakka heritage, were both composed through a collaboration with Chen on the piano part and premiered worldwide with performances at Lincoln Center in New York, Sydney Opera House in Australia, and the Hong Kong Cultural Center.

Chen is also an active chamber musician and has performed with international chamber groups, such as the Lark Quartet and Shanghai Quartet.
He has given master classes in musical strongholds, such as the New England Conservatory in Boston and the Masterplayer International Music Academy in Lugano. He has served as a jury member in international piano competitions in Switzerland. He has also served as artistic director of various festivals, including Taiwan government’s music festival. Kaohsiung City of Taiwan has appointed him as their music ambassador.

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in 2010, Chen launched a project to present a series of concerts featuring Chopin’s masterpieces, including solo and piano concerto works, in major cities throughout America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region from 2008 through 2010.

In between his demanding touring schedule, Chen has devoted much of his time to helping the underprivileged and various worthy causes. In 2012, he was the keynote celebrity performer at the American Red Cross Gala in Los Angeles and performed for the gala guests and Ms. Jane Seymour. That same year, he organized the first National Piano Competition for Disabled Youngsters in Taiwan. The winners got a dream of lifetime to perform on stage with Chen in two large concerts with over 2,000 people in the audience. Also in that year he participated in a special project called “Play Me, I’m Yours” with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and a benefit concert with the Pasadena Symphony in honor of Marvin Hamlisch.
In addition to the awards from various international piano competitions, Chen has been the recipient of various distinguished awards and honors, such as the “Bösendorfer” prize in Vienna and being chosen by Taiwan’s Minister of Culture as the “Best Young Artist.” Chen won the “Best Prize for Contributions to Music” at the Salzburg International Music Festival and the “Albert Roussel Prize” in Paris. He was invited by the president of Taiwan, Teng-Hui Lee, to his Festival Concert at the Presidential Palace, which was broadcast by national radio and television networks. Subsequently he was also honored by the two succeeding presidents. He was awarded the “Taiwan Millennium Best Artistic Performance Award” in 2000, the “Golden Melody Awards” for “Best Performance” and for “Best Album,” and the “Character of Highest Potential” in Taiwan. Chen was also honored by the county supervisor of greater Los Angeles County for promoting diplomacy between the United States and Taiwan through music with his solo recital at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Located in the heart of Beverly Hills, the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis) has transformed a Beverly Hills city block, facing Santa Monica Boulevard, between Crescent and Canon Drives, into a vibrant new cultural destination with two distinct, elegant buildings: the historic 1933 Italianate-style Beverly Hills Post Office (now the Paula Kent Meehan Historic Building) and the new, contemporary 500-seat, state-of-the-art Bram Goldsmith Theater. Together these two structures embrace the city’s history and future, creating a new cultural landmark. Within the treasured Post Office, existing spaces are re-imagined into the 150-seat Lovelace Studio Theater, a theater school for young people, a café (both opening in 2014), and gift shop. The Wallis, the first performing arts center to be built in Beverly Hills, is now a home for artists from around the world and audiences of every age. The Wallis will produce and present outstanding theater, music, opera and dance, as well as exciting programming for the family audience.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rueibin wants to thank you all for your support!

Rueibin wants to thank you all for your support! Both concerts at the Wallis are completely SOLD OUT! 
For those of you who are not able to get tickets, we sincerely apologize and hope to see you in LA and/or at the Wallis in the future!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

On the left is an ad in the LA Times (洛杉磯時報) that some friends emailed me. Sorry there are no more orchestras seats left. See you at the Wallis very soon - the hottest state-of-the-art performing arts venue in the US!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Friday 3/28 Rueibin Chen will perform Chopin's famous Funeral March at encore at the Wallis

Friday 3/28 is the anniversary of Rachmaninoff's passing. As a special tribute, Rueibin Chen will perform Chopin's famous Funeral March at encore at the Wallis. Rachmaninoff also played this piece at his very last concert.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Taiwanese pianist Rueibin Chen to appear in Beverly Hills

Taiwanese pianist Rueibin Chen to appear in Beverly Hills
Taiwan News, February 24, 2014

Internationally renowned Taiwanese pianist Rueibin Chen will perform the evenings of March 27 and 28 at the Wallis Annenberg Center in Beverly Hills. Chen will perform classic piano work from one of the true masters, Sergei Rachmaninoff. As always, Chen’s superb talent and rich interpretations are expected to attract a full house of music lovers who enjoy his keyboard skills as well as his infectious charm.
Chen will be the first piano soloist to perform in the recently completed Wallis Annenberg Center, a performing arts center in Beverly Hills that took 15 years and US$70 million to complete. Chen has noted that it is a truly great honor for him to be the first solo performer to appear there, and he is proud to open the center to the public. In addition, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Beverly Hills, adding to the meaning of the debut performance in the Wallis Annenberg Center.

Chen was the first Chinese musician to perform at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University early last year, and in February this year he was invited back to perform a Chinese New Year Concert featuring the "Yellow River Piano Concerto." This is always a performance that audiences of all nationalities enjoy and appreciate for its festive Chinese New Year atmosphere.

Chen was also the first Chinese musician to ever appear in the latest and most modern Center for the Performing Arts in Southern California scale ─ the Orange County Performing Arts Center Concert Hall, also known as the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

Chen's performances come during the 140th anniversary commemoration of Rachmaninoff, and Beverly Hills is one of the places where Rachmaninoff spent the twilight years of his outstanding career. He spent much of his life in foreign lands, and many of his works are full of melancholy. Chen, who traveled to Vienna at a young age to study the piano, has many parallels in his own life, making Rachmaninoff's works even more vivid and poignant for him. Chen says sometimes he wonders if he has some Russian blood in his ancestry. He notes that no one ever taught him how to play Rachmaninoff, he just sat down at the piano and let Rachmaninoff's works resonate through his fingertips. With Rueibin Chen, the whole Rachmaninoff experience is something that cannot be explained in words.

Chen’s performance at Beverly Hills will echo his triumphant appearance in Taiwan, with a comprehensive range of Rachmaninoff’s works including his piano transcriptions The Three Nocturnes. This is a feat that demands great skill but produces tremendous feelings of nostalgia for the listener.

Currently tickets for the first concert on March 27 are sold out, but may still be available for the Friday, March 28 performance. Please or call 310-746-4000. The center is located at 9390 N. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

Photo # 1 
Taiwanese pianist Rueibin Chen performs at Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Orange County.

Photo # 2
Taiwanese pianist Rueibin Chen performs at the Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University.