Friday, March 23, 2012

Good Morning Tainan

Concert pianist and friends hit a high note

Chen Rueibin will perform today and tomorrow with three young musicians who overcame physical disabilities and learning difficulties to master the piano
By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff Reporter Taipei Times
Ku Yung-kai, left, plays the piano with Chen Rueibin.
Photo Courtesy of Capriccio Chamber Orchestra

Concert pianist Chen Rueibin (陳瑞斌) is one of Taiwan’s best-known musical exports and his considerable success means that he spends more time performing abroad than at home. But the Tainan native, who embarked on a musical career in Vienna when just 13, has never forgotten his roots. This week he is back in his hometown for a very special project.
Today and tomorrow, Chen will perform together with three young musicians who have all battled physical disabilities and learning difficulties to achieve their high level of musical proficiency.
For Rueibin Chen and Friends , Chen will perform together with Ku Yung-kai , who has autism, Chen Po-rung , who is blind, and Chang Yan-sheng , who is visually impaired and has cerebral palsy. The three were selected from applicants from all over the country, and all have attained a high level of musical skill. Speaking at a press conference held to announce the project, Chen said that the selection process had been heartbreaking, as many of the applicants were clearly very talented, and was proof, if any were needed, that disabilities need not impair a person’s capacity to lead a full and expressive life.
“I could not make the choice myself. It was too difficult,” Chen said, adding that the applicants had distinguished themselves with their passion for music, their effort in overcoming various conditions, and their optimism in the face of adversity.
Chen said that although he was unable to spend as much time as he would have liked working with his proteges because of his international concert commitments, he did not settle for them playing works they were already familiar with. He set them “homework” and this week they rehearsed together in preparation for the concert.
“Technically they are fine,” Chen said. “But what they lack is performance experience. Things like walking onto the stage and interacting with the audience. In truth, most young musicians in Taiwan lack this kind of exposure. This is something that I can give them … Of course, I make all the demands on them that I make on myself.”
At the press conference, Ku, a music student at Tamkang High School (淡江高級中學) with a major in piano and minor in cello, thanked Chen for the great boost this opportunity had given his confidence. Chen said working with Ku had been a learning experience. As communication with words was not very effective, the music itself had to do most of the talking.
“I find when working with him [Ku] that he responds in his mind to what is going on, not to words or demonstrations. When I saw the DVD of his performance [submitted as part of the application process], he was so immersed in the music it brought tears to my eyes,” Chen said.
Chen says he would like to give his three pupils the opportunity to perform overseas. He said that currently there are only two large-scale classical music events for musicians living with disabilities, one in Vienna, the other in Osaka, and he thinks of this concert as a small step in creating a regular fixture in Taiwan at which musicians from all over the world could perform.


Performance notes

What: Rueibin Chen and Friends
When: Today at 7:30pm (Tainan) and tomorrow at 7:30pm (Taipei)
Where: Tainan Municipal Cultural Center Performance Hall , 332, Jhonghua E Rd Sec 3, Greater Tainan and Zhongshan Hall , 98 Yanping S Rd, Taipei City
Admission: Tickets are NT$300 to NT$4,800 for both venues, available through ERA ticketing and online at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Inaugural Tainan Arts Festival

Tainan City gears up for inaugural arts festival

Tainan City gears up for inaugural arts festivalRenowned pianist Chen Ruei-bin, a Tainan native, will perform at the Tainan Arts Festival March 23. (Courtesy of Tainan City Department of Cultural Affairs)
  • Publication Date:02/08/2012
  • Source: Taiwan Today
  • By  June Tsai

The first Tainan Arts Festival will kick off Feb. 25, turning the temples and historic sites of the southern city, known as the cultural capital of Taiwan, into stages for the performing arts.
“The festival will combine Tainan’s historic treasures with contemporary shows, and offer top quality programs to the public,” Mayor Lai Ching-te said at a news conference in Taipei Feb. 7.
Running until June 17, the event will offer an eclectic series of programs featuring 40 top-notch artists and groups, according to the Tainan City Government.
The Eternal Golden Castle, a national heritage site in Anping District that was built in 1874 as protection against Japanese invasion, will become a performance venue for the first time, providing a stage for the multinational operatic pop vocal group Il Divo March 20, organizers said.
International musicians including vocalist Bobby McFerrin, violinist David Garrett and the Berlin Baroque Soloists will perform along with local artists, notably pianist Chen Ruei-bin, Taipei Male Choir, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe and Tainan Jen Theatre.
The Tainan municipal government and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp. are offering a 25-percent train ticket discount for art lovers who wish to travel to the festival via the high-speed rail.
Shuttle buses will run between the THSR Tainan station and performance venues, as well as between Kaohsiung and Tainan. (THN)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Young Pianists at Rehearsals

You may or may not understand Chinese but music is a universal language, right?  Below please find short clips of these talented young musicians rehearsing for the upcoming concerts.

Young Pianist Chen & Not-So-Young Pianist Chen

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Young pianist Ku and his proud parents

Taiwanese-Austrian pianist to perform with disabled teenagers

Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Taiwanese-Austrian pianist Rueibin Chen will perform with three young disabled musicians at two concerts later this week in Taiwan, event organizers announced Monday.

The unique events mark the first time that Chen, who has won many international awards, will do so with mentally or physically challenged people, they said at a news conference.

With exceptional musical skills, the three high school students were selected from dozens of teenage applicants around
Taiwan, they added.

Describing how tough it was to choose three from many talented applicants, Chen said it was really touching to listen to the recordings of their performances with his eyes closed.

"I hope the events will help the public to experience the special talent of disabled musicians," Chen said at the news conference, where he played two classical pieces with one of the students, Ku Yuan-kai, who suffers from autism.

During practice sessions with Ku in the run-up to the concerts, Chen said that the 17-year-old did not always reply to his instruction verbally, but showed his response through his musical performance.

"I felt that he was responding to my instruction with his heart," Chen said.

Chen also offered advice to the young musical talents on how to play before a large audience.

"Your music has to be heard by a member of the audience who is sitting in the most distant corner of the concert hall," Chen said.

A total of 650 free tickets will be provided for mentally or physically challenged students, as well as social welfare groups that help the disabled, the organizers said.

Titled "Rueibin Chen and Friends," the 1.5-hour concert will debut in the southern Taiwanese city of
Tainan March 23, followed by one in Taipei the next day.

(By Elaine Hou)

First Day of Spring

Today 3/20/12 is the first day of Spring (the vernal equinox).  It is also the New Year for Persians across the world.  So Happy Nowruz to my Persian friends! 

Spring signifies life and it is most befitting that two very important concerts will be happening this first weekend of Spring.  I will be playing four-hands with the 3 winners from the first ever piano competition for the physically and/or mentally challenged youngsters in Taiwan.  It has been a most inspiring experience for me these last few days rehearsing with these very talented young musicians who are able to achieve piano playing skills at the highest level against all the challenges they each have to face.  I have utmost respect and admiration for them! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patty's Day!

A week ago, I had the privilege to be invited by the American Red Cross to perform at the historic Craven Estate in Pasadena, CA. I got to visit with old friends and meet new ones. It was very inspiring to meet with Ms Jane Seymour, the honoree of the evening, for her many years of dedication in a wide range of charitable work, particularly with the American Red Cross and in the eradication of measles in Africa. I am now busy preparing for two upcoming concerts in Taiwan (March 23 and 24). I will be playing four-hands with the winners from the piano competition for the physically and/or mentally challenged youngsters (age 13 -18) which I helped organize and judged a couple of months ago. These young people are truly amazing and inspiring. They are extremely talented and have made incredible accomplishments despite all the challenges they have to overcome. If you happen to be in Taiwan this coming weekend, please join us!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Red Cross Gala

Repertoire for the Private Recital

Bach/Gounod      Ave Maria
Chopin               Nocturne in C Sharp Minor
Grieg                 In the Hall of the Mountain King

New photos and new website ... coming soon ...

I just posted two photos by my friend Jimmy of James Chou Photography taken at the Red Cross Private Recital. He is a most talented photographer and you will be seeing more of his pictures in the next few days.  Also, please stay tuned for the launch of my new official website very soon! 

Pre-gala Private Recital

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Learning something new ...

My friends have been helping me post things on my blogs but I am trying to learn how to do it myself.  I think playing the piano maybe easier ...  So please bear with me as I pick up a new skill and try to become a "blogger".

 In addition to a pre-gala private recital, for the main gala, I performed the 18th Variation from Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini - otherwise known as the theme song in the movie "Somewhere in Time".  I decided on the repertoire prior to knowing who else would be at the Gala.  And guess what?  Ms. Jane Seymour was the honoree for the evening!  What a coincidence! 

I will be posting some more pictures from the Gala in the next few days.  Hope you will enjoy seeing them.  I will be back to LA to perform the entire Rachmaninoff piece with the Pasadena Symphony (the second oldest orchestra in the US) .  Hope to see  you there!

American Red Cross Gala - at the red carpet with Ms. Jane Seymour

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Red Cross Inaugural Gala

Red Cross Gala to Feature Actress Jane Seymour and Pianist Rueibin Chen

The evening will be a formal affair evocative of the glamour and mystery of the roaring 1920’s

Actress Jane Seymour and Pianist Rueibin Chen
Published: Thursday, February 9, 2012 | 5:51 PM

The American Red Cross San Gabriel Pomona Valley Chapter is gearing up for its inaugural Gala, “Speakeasy with the Red Cross,” to be held on Saturday, March 10, 2012, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Cravens Estate, 430 Madeline Drive, Pasadena. The night’s festivities include an award presentation by Actress Jane Seymour and entertainment by world-renown pianist, Rueibin Chen and a silent and live auction. The evening will be a formal affair evocative of the glamour and mystery of the roaring 1920’s.
Actress and Red Cross advocate, Jane Seymour, will be the evening’s celebrity honoree. Ms. Seymour has been an active member of the Red Cross National Celebrity Cabinet since 2002 and has been instrumental in the campaign to eradicate measles. She has also been an outspoken supporter of American Red Cross relief efforts following the devastating Hurricane of 2004 and the 2010 Earthquake Relief efforts in Haiti. Ms Seymour will be honored with the American Red Cross “Crystal Cross Award,” presented to celebrities who have shown exemplary support of and service to the American Red Cross mission.
A Chinese-Austrian born in Taiwan, Rueibin Chen’s distinguished career has earned him more than a dozen medals in various international piano competitions, a reputation for technical brilliance and the ability to combine intense energy with a refined sense of touch. Mr. Chen has appeared as a soloist with many orchestras around the world; as well as being invited by officials of the 2010 World Expo to be the exclusive opening ceremony performer of the famous ”Yellow River Concerto” in Shanghai. Amongst his many international awards and honors, he was 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.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to perform at an event supporting an organization as valuable as the American Red Cross,” said Mr. Chen. “Money raised at the event will help deliver disaster preparedness education to the public and assist those who have been affected by disaster.”
A volunteer-led humanitarian organization, the American Red Cross Los Angeles Region helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Serving more than 85 cities, the Red Cross provides relief for victims of house and apartment fires, earthquakes, floods, hazardous material spills, transportation accidents, explosions and other natural or man-made disasters — 24 hours a day. Last year, nearly 160,000 people were trained in vital life-saving skills, including CPR and first aid. For more information, please visit