He was invited as 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 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 before the age of 20; in various international piano competitions in Tel Aviv (Rubinstein), Warsaw (Chopin) ,Salt Lake City (Bachauer), Athens (Callas), Vienna, Manresa, and Italy (Rome, Rachmaninoff, Bellini, and Stresa) etc.
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 legendary Russian pianist Lazar Berman as his only disciple of Asian descent.
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 participated at many internationally and historically significant events such as being the designated soloist of the 75th Anniversary of Turkey, the designated soloist for the Macau/China Reunification Celebration Ceremony and he was most honored to be invited by the Chinese government to perform at the World Expo in Shanghai.
He has been selected as the soloist for many orchestral world tours such as with the Taipei Symphony on its Asian Tour, with Kaohsiung City Traditional Orchestra of Taiwan on its America Tour and its Australia Tour, with the Evergreen Symphony as well as the Taipei Symphony on their China Tours. Chen has worked with conductors such as Sergiu Comissiona, Antoni Wit, Pavel Kogan, Joseph Silverstein, and András Ligeti etc..
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, Sydney Opera House. He has also held various position as Artist-in-Residence such as with the Hong Kong Radio Television and has acted as Music Director of various chamber festivals.
In recent years, in addition to his solo recitals and orchestral performances of classical repertoire; Chen has devoted much effort in the collaboration and premiering of new solo and piano concertos 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 with collaboration with Chen on the piano part and premiered world-wide including performances at Lincoln Center in New York, Sydney Opera House, Hong Kong Cultural Center etc.
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 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 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.
In addition to his masterful artistry; Chen’s humble background and the hardship he went through as a youngster growing up in Europe all by himself has inspired many young Chinese both in Asia and abroad. His unique blend of East/West sensibility; his Chinese heritage and his European upbringing and training; his humble personality as well as his inspiring personal story has earned him a significant following amongst Chinese all over the world.
In between his demanding touring schedule, Chen has devoted much of his time in 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. The same year, he organized the first National Piano Competition for Disabled Youngsters in Taiwan. The winners got the dream of a lifetime to perform on stage with Chen in 2 large concerts with over 2000 in the audience.
Most recently, he participated in a special project called “Play Me I’m Yours” with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and a Benefit Concert in honor of Maestro Marvin Hamlisch with the Pasadena Symphony.
Chen is the best-selling classical musician in Greater China in CD recordings. He has produced a dozen CD recordings with labels such as UNIVERSAL, NAXOS 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 broadcasted in many radio and television programs in Europe, Asia, America, and Australia.
Prizes and Recognition
In addition to the awards from various international piano competitions, Chen has been the recipient of various recognitions such as 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, 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.
Chen's musicianship has been highly praised by many renowned musicians and critics. Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was particularly impressed with his astonishing technique. Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha described his playing as "magnificent" and "full of promise." After his performance of Rachmaninoff's second Piano Sonata in a piano competition, he received tremendous accolades from former New York Times critic Harold C. Schonberg, who wrote that Chen's interpretation was the best he had heard by a young artist for a long time. The Boston Globe raved, "He plays with white-hot energy, steel-fingered power and athletic virtuosity,” and that he also “show(s) that he can play with delicacy and imagination." Additionally, Christoph Braendle, a well-known Swiss writer, gives a detailed account of the Chinese-Austrian pianist's musical achievements in his book, Die Wiener.
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