Monday, October 29, 2012

Rueibin Chen and Pasadena Symphony Performs Rachmaninoff at Ambassador Auditorium

Pasadena Symphony Performs Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff at Ambassador Auditorium

Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012

Rachmaninoff International Award winning pianist Rueibin Chen joins conductor Edwin Outwater and the Pasadena Symphony in concert at both 2 and 8 pm on Saturday, November 3 at the acoustically acclaimed Ambassador Auditorium. Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 and Rachmaninoff’s Paganini Variations for Piano and Orchestra are the featured masterworks on the program.

Tchaikovsky’s breakthrough Fourth Symphony is a bounding creative leap in scale, intensity and ambition combining theatrical flair with emotional contrasts that reach epic proportions. Chen will perform his talisman, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini – brilliant with delicious wit and one of the world’s most irresistible melodies popularized by the movie “Somewhere in Time.” In this concert, conductor Edwin Outwater and the Pasadena Symphony will deliver music so personal, it becomes universal.

Chen, who recently performed as part of the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra’s “Play Me I’m Yours” project, is a favorite among Chinese and American audiences. He has earned countless accolades and awards for his appearances in concert halls and international piano competitions, including competitions in Tel Aviv (Rubinstein), in Warsaw (Chopin) ,Salt Lake City (Bachauer), Athens (Callas), Vienna, Manresa, and Italy (Rome, Rachmaninov, Bellini, and Stresa).

Rachmaninoff’s virtuosic Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini was one of the composer’s later works, written in 1934. Based on a famous violin theme by Niccoló Paganini, Rachmaninoff’s work takes the artist on a grand adventure reveling in inventiveness and sheer speed. With its technical mastery and captivating melodies, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini became an instant hit with audiences.

Tickets to see Rueibin Chen and Edwin Outwater in concert with the Pasadena Symphony on Saturday, November 3 at Ambassador Auditorium are on sale now. For tickets or more information, contact the Pasadena Symphony box office online at or call (626) 793-7172.

About the Artists

About Rueibin Chen

Mr. Rueibin Chen’s distinguished career as an internationally acclaimed pianist has earned him a reputation for technical brilliance, immense energy, and intense artistic expression. His masterful performance of Rachmaninoff’s complete piano concertos (including the Paganini Rhapsody Op. 43) in two consecutive nights at Taiwan’s National Concert Hall garnered significant critical acclaim. The performance was considered to “be the first of its kind and has left a sensational imprint in the minds of the overflowed audience.” Such praise befits “one of those geniuses that come along once in twenty years.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung)

A Chinese-Austrian born in Taiwan, Chen has won a total of eighteen medals, five of them gold, in various international piano competitions in Tel Aviv (Rubinstein), in Warsaw (Chopin) ,Salt Lake City (Bachauer), Athens (Callas), Vienna, Manresa, and Italy (Rome, Rachmaninov, Bellini, and Stresa).

Chen received his first piano lessons from his father when he was five. At the age of thirteen, he was selected by the Taiwanese 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 legendary Lazar Berman.


Chen started his career as a concert pianist at age ten when he made his debut with 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, and Hong Kong Sinfonietta, among others. He was invited to be the Soloist with Taipei Symphony on its Asian Tour, the designated soloist of the 75th Anniversary of Turkey, the soloist with Kaohsiung City Traditional Orchestra of Taiwan on its America Tour in 2005 and on its Australia Tour in 2006, the soloist with Evergreen Symphony on its China Tour in 2005. Chen has worked with such conductors as Antoni Wit, Pavel Kogan, Sergiu Comissiona, Joseph Silverstein, and András Ligeti.

Chen made his European debut in the Grossensaal of the Konzerthaus in Vienna in 1984 to much acclaim. 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 Czechoslovakia, the Chopin Festivals in Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, various festivals in Romania and the Auckland International Piano Festival.

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 DC, the 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 Leipzig, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Opera de Monte Carlo, Warsaw Philharmonie, Bolshoi Hall in Moscow, F. Mann Auditorium 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 and Shanghai Oriental Art Center in Shanghai, Sydney Opera House. Since 2002, he has been the Artist-in-Residence of Hong Kong Radio Television.

Chen is also an active chamber musician and has performed with international chamber groups including the London Chamber Players, 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 also served as a jury member in international piano competitions in Switzerland.

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth in 2010, Chen has launched a project to present a series of concerts featuring Chopin’s masterpieces, including solo and piano concerto works, in major cities in America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region from 2008 through 2010. Chen is the first Taiwan-born pianist, played the famous “Yellow River Concerto” in Hong Kong and China successfully and also invited by the Chinese government to perform with orchestras at the opening of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.


Chen has produced a dozen CD recordings with labels such as UNIVERSAL, NAXOS/MARCO POLO INTERNATIONAL, KKM AUSTRIA and JINGO RECORDS with works by Chopin, Liszt, Wagner-Liszt, Grieg, Tchaikovsky, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Stravinsky, Piazolla and his own transcriptions. His concerts have been broadcast in many radio and television programs in Europe, Asia, America, and Australia.

Prizes and Recognition

The recipient of many prizes, Chen was awarded the “Bösendorfer” prize in Vienna and was chosen by the Minister of Culture in Taiwan as the “Best Young Artist”. Chen won the “Best Prize for Contributions to Music” at 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 in 1992, which was broadcast by national radio and television networks. 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.

About Edwin Outwater

Edwin Outwater is Music Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony in Ontario, Canada. Now in his fifth season, he has revitalized the orchestra and gained international attention for innovative projects and imaginative programs.

Mr. Outwater’s recent project highlights include the launching of the Beethoven and Your Brain project (parts 1 and 2) with author/speaker/scientist Daniel Levitin at the Toronto Conservatory of Music, a new Schoenberg and Mason Bates program with Orquestra Sinfonica do Porto, a concert version of H. K. Gruber’s “Frankenstein!” with author/actor Daniel Handler, a new orchestral music project with Dan Deacon, a CD release on the Analaketa label of first orchestral compositions by Nico Muhly, Johnny Greenwood (Radiohead), and Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), the YouTube Symphony 2 concert in Sydney, Australia as well as leading the very first appearance of the YouTube Symphony at Carnegie Hall as one of only three conductors chosen for this event – alongside Michael Tilson Thomas and Tan Dun, a performance of works of Frank Zappa in Cincinnati, his professional opera debut conducting La Traviata with the San Francisco Opera, a subscription concert week with the San Francisco Symphony that featured a new world premiere composition by Duncan Sheik, two PDQ Bach events – one with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and one with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a revival of A Beatles Tribute with Cheap Trick at the Las Vegas Hilton, a benefit concert with the San Francisco Symphony featuring some of Hollywood’s most prominent actors (The World of Nick Adams), an evening of Nico Muhly’s orchestral works at the Toronto Conservatory of Music and a performance of John Adams’ revised version of the Dr. Atomic Symphony with the BBC National Symphony Orchestra of Wales.

As a conductor and educator, this season Mr. Outwater leads the New World Symphony Orchestra in an in-depth focus on the music of Ravel with Jamie Bernstein (daughter of Leonard Bernstein) as the host. He delivers a world-premiere commission from Nico Muhly at the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, leads a fully staged performance of Menotti’s “Amahl and the Night Visitors” with the Little Orchestra Society of New York at Lincoln Center, conducts and all day and night marathon live on BBC radio celebrating Rugby Day around the world with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and makes guest conducting appearances with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

Last season, Outwater lead the New World Symphony in a focus on the music of Manuel de Falla in addition to appearances with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Australian Youth Orchestra. He also returned to the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C., the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and made a debut appearance with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra.

In the United States, Mr. Outwater has conducted the New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C., the St. Louis Symphony, as well as the symphony orchestras of Baltimore, Houston, Detroit, Seattle, and Indianapolis, and many others. In Canada, he has conducted the symphonies of Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, the National Arts Centre Orchestra of Ottawa and the Victoria Symphony Orchestra in addition to his own Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. International appearances include the Mexico City Philharmonic, the New Zealand Symphony, the Adelaide Symphony, the Malmö Symphony, the Nordwestdeutsche Philharmonie, the Orquestra Sinfonica de Xalapa, and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta.

Edwin Outwater was Resident Conductor of the San Francisco Symphony from 2001-2006. While there, he worked closely with Michael Tilson Thomas, accompanied the orchestra on tour and conducted numerous concerts each season. He made his subscription debut in 2002 with Kurt Masur conducting Britten’s War Requiem, and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, and many others. On two occasions, Mr. Outwater stepped in for an ailing Michael Tilson Thomas, conducting performances of Stravinsky’s complete Pulcinella, as well as works by Beethoven and Cherubini. In July 2006 Mr. Outwater conducted the world premiere performance and recording of The Composer is Dead, by Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket which was recently released HarperCollins. In 2008, his recording with the San Francisco Symphony of the music of Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate was released to wide acclaim.

From 2001-2005 Mr. Outwater was Wattis Foundation Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra. During his tenure, he led the orchestra in all of their concerts as well as on tour to Europe in the summer of 2004. During the tour, the orchestra made its debut at Vienna’s Musikverein, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, and returned to Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

Before joining the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Outwater served as Resident Conductor and Associate Guest Conductor of the Florida Philharmonic. He has also held posts as Associate Conductor of the Festival-Institute at Round Top (a renowned music-training program based in Texas), Principal Conductor of the Adriatic Chamber Music Festival in Molise, Italy, and Assistant Conductor of the Tulsa Philharmonic.

Mr. Outwater’s work in music education and community outreach has been widely acclaimed. In 2004 his education programs were given the Leonard Bernstein award for excellence in educational programming, and his Chinese New Year Program was given the MET LIFE award for community outreach. At the San Francisco Symphony, he conducted Family Concerts, Adventures in Music performances, which are heard by more than 25,000 students from San Francisco schools each year, and Concerts for Kids, which serve students from throughout Northern California. In Florida, Mr. Outwater designed the Florida Philharmonic Family Series and its Music for Youth program, which was heard annually by more than 40,000 fifth-grade students in South Florida. He appears frequently with training orchestras and music festivals throughout the United States and across the world, including the National Youth Orcehstra of New Zealand, the Music Academy of the West, the National Orchestral Institute, the Festival-Institute at Round Top, and the Mannes Conservatory Orchestra. Mr. Outwater has served as music director of the Santa Barbara Youth Symphony, and has been on the faculties of the University of Tulsa, the Idyllwild Arts Academy, and the University of California, Santa Barbara.

A native of Santa Monica, California, Edwin Outwater attended Harvard University, graduating cum laude in 1993 with a degree in English literature. While at Harvard, he was music director of the Bach Society Orchestra, the Harvard Din and Tonics (an acclaimed a cappella group), and wrote the music for the 145th annual production of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals. He received his master’s degree in conducting from UC Santa Barbara, where he studied with Heiichiro Ohyama, and Paul Polivinick. He also studied music theory and composition with John Stewart, Joel Feigin, and Leonard Stein.

About the Pasadena Symphony and POPS

Recent Acclaim for the Pasadena Symphony and POPS

“…Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony sent me straight to the thesaurus for more options to ‘enthusiasm.’ They include eagerness, fervor, passion, gusto, zeal, zest, keenness, excitement, fire. All will do.

Vitality, drive, vivacity, dash, vim, gusto, brio, dynamism, verve and spirit are other suitable synonyms. You get the point.” – Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times. October 30, 2011

“…full of pulsating energy from first note to last… the strings were lushly resonant, the wind principals were at the top of their games, and the brass rang out with gleaming vigor.” – Robert Thomas, Pasadena Star News. November 2, 2011

The Pasadena Symphony Association was founded in 1928 by Conductor Reginald Bland. Originally named the Pasadena Civic Orchestra, its first members were mostly volunteer musicians, many of whom were students of Bland. The annual operating budget was $3,500, which was funded entirely by the City of Pasadena.

The Pasadena Symphony and POPS is an ensemble of Southern California’s most talented, sought after musicians. With extensive credits in the film, television, recording and orchestral industry, the artists of Pasadena Symphony and POPS are the most heard in the world.

In the fall of 2007, the Pasadena Symphony incorporated the Pasadena POPS into its Association under the new name Pasadena Symphony and POPS. This merger created an expanded Classics and POPS series providing the community with a full spectrum of live symphonic concerts year-round. In the summer of 2012, the Pasadena POPS’ relocated its summer home to the Los Angeles County Arboretum where it has been performing to record-breaking crowds and critical acclaim.

The Pasadena Symphony provides a musical experience like no other at the Ambassador Auditorium – known as the Carnegie Hall of the West. Internationally recognized, Presidential Medal of Arts Recipient, Maestro James DePreist, serves as the Pasadena Symphony Association’s Artistic Advisor. The Pasadena POPS announced Michael Feinstein as its new Principal Pops Conductor in August 2012 where he will be the first conductor to hold the Marvin Hamlisch Chair title.

A hallmark of its robust education programs, the Pasadena Symphony Association has served the youth of the region since 1972 through the Pasadena Youth Symphony Orchestra comprised of over 200 gifted middle school students from more than 40 schools all over the Southland. The PYSO most recently performed on several episodes of the popular television show GLEE.