Friday, March 20, 2015

Musical destiny Pianist Chen Rueibin takes Beijing ‘Somewhere in Time’

Musical destiny

Pianist Chen Rueibin takes Beijing ‘Somewhere in Time’

Interview by Global Times  

March 10, 2015 

Pianist Chen Rueibin

Unlike his music, which is described as "white-hot energy, steel-fingered, power and athletic virtuosity" by critics, my time talking with pianist Chen Rueibin was a quiet and pleasant experience.

Active around concert halls in Europe and the US, the Chinese-Austrian pianist has performed in Chinese mainland multiple times, including playing the Yellow River Piano Concerto during the open ceremony of the Shanghai World Expo in 2010. Next month, he is set to bring Rachmaninoff's piano concerto Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (1934), famous in China for its use in the film Somewhere in Time and one of Chen's more representative performances, to the stage in China.

Chen has played Rachmaninoff's works for most of his life. As we began talking about his favorite musician his eyes suddenly shined bright and he became especially passionate. He went on to talk about how he always felt a strong connection with this Russian composer and how he came to appreciate him.

At age 16, Chen won his first international prize at the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition in Italy. Four years later, he became the only Asian student of Lazar Berman, the late great Russian pianist whose records of his performances of Rachmaninoff's works with Claudio Abbado are still in high demand, after the latter heard Chen playing Rachmaninoff's music.

Chen excitedly pointed out to me that Berman's teacher was actually one of Rachmaninoff's classmates and that he found it fascinating that the Russian composer made his way to the US where he passed away. Chen explained that his love for this composer was so great he once held a two-night concert where he performed five of Rachmaninoff's piano concertos - anyone of which can be an exhausting task for a pianist.

In 2013, Chen performed Rachmaninoff's Three Nocturnes in Asia and the US for the first time. A rare piece of music written when Rachmaninoff was only 16, it was later discovered with the final page missing. To perform the work, Chen took it upon himself to finish them on his own.

"I hope I will have more opportunities to perform these rarities for Asian audiences and help them to get to know more about this composer.

"When I was young, I chose Rachmaninoff's works because they are difficult to play. I wanted to show off my technique. But after so many years, I now pay more attention to the profound meaning behind his music," Chen said, going on to tell me that after so many years living far away from home, he feels himself getting closer to his favorite composer in his heart.

Born in Tainan, Taiwan, Chen set his feet on a musical path when only a child. He first began getting a feel for music on a third-hand antique piano his philharmonic father bought before Chen's birth. Beginning formal lessons when he was 5, he won first prize in a local city-level competition when he was 6.

A year after graduating from primary school, Chen entered the Vienna Conservatory as the youngest student ever admitted at that time. He was shocked by the entirely different cultural environment and atmosphere towards enjoying classical music. "I found a lot of musical treasures in Vienna. There were so many concerts and stories related to music... It is the hometown to so many musicians," Chen said.

European's strong cultural background made him curious about his own culture. Forming his own traditional Chinese musical ensemble, he is now working to actively introduce Chinese music to the Western world.

 "People liked to talk proudly about their own culture there, which instilled in me a strong desire to speak out for my own. I think that is also duty of a musician," said Chen.

Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Making a Difference


Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Making a Difference

Posted by CNN   
February 18, 2015   Beverly Hills, California

East truly meets west at the Lunar New Celebration at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. It was presented via a concert featuring the world renown artist and pianist Rueibin Chen and L’Ensemble du Ciel, his traditional Chinese instrumental ensemble.

This was an evening of introspection and celebration bridging past and future and East and Western cultures. It was held in the new performing arts facility of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.

I was fortunate to be able to interview performing artist Rueibin Chen and Tania Camargo, the Managing Director of Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in the Education Courtyard.

The project is a throwback to earlier projects that had been done for Los Angeles school system, but have long since abandoned due to budget cuts. There was a time in the LA school system in schools would simply take the day off and be bussed to concert halls to listen to performances by great artist from around the world.

The day before this concert was held for the public, it premiered and was held privately as a matinee for students for free. There is a back to the future goal with the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts to once again bring students and artists together so that students can truly appreciate the art of music in a setting that truly shows the grandeur of the arts vs. watching on a television set or listening on their cell phones. Starting this summer there will be a performance arts curriculum for people of all ages from babies to adults with specific programming for specific age groups.

“The performing arts is incredibly important in the growth and education of people,” shared Camargo inthe vision of Inspiring the future audience and creating well rounded human beings. They are hoping that once students see this live in front of them it will profoundly change their lives for the better. It worked for decades. As an individual that was able to see this being done when I was younger, I developed an appreciation for how magnificent it was to actually see it being done right.

As was originally done in the LA school systems, it is only meant for small groups, with only 500 seats for a more intimate setting. As in the case when I was in school, you only get the people that truly want to enjoy the arts then it is left up to them to tell the others what they missed.

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Making a Difference- "

More from CNN report:

"Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Making a Difference- " East truly meets west at the Lunar New Year Celebration at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts ... featuring world renown artist and pianist Rueibin Chen and L’Ensemble du Ciel, his traditional Chinese instrumental ensemble. This was an evening of introspection and celebration bridging past and future and East and Western cultures."
Very proud of my chamber group L'Ensemble du Ciel. It's mission is to bring the most illustrious young artists in traditional Chinese instruments to perform in the most well-respected concert venues across the globe! What repertoire do you want to hear next time?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

pianist Rueibin Chen honored by Beverly Hills for his performance in the city - Interview by Taiwan News

How Taiwanese pianist Chen Ruei-bin has struck a chord with Hong Kong - Interview by South China Morning Post《南華早報》

Vienna-based Taiwanese pianist Chen Ruei-bin during his most recent visit to Hong Kong

 Pianist Chen Ruei-bin performs at a recital.

I was recently interviewed by South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Celebrating its 115th this year .


Monday, 26 January, 2015

How Taiwanese pianist Chen Ruei-bin has struck a chord with Hong Kong

Chen Ruei-bin said thank you through music for city's response to tragedy in his native Taiwan
The exaggerated stage etiquette of mainland pianist Lang Lang has found an antithesis in his Taiwanese counterpart, Chen Ruei-bin.
The Tainan-born musician could be just as bombastic on the keyboard. But his diffidence in telling how Hong Kong played a role in his music-making - from here to Los Angeles, where he returns for a concert this week - was like an anticlimax to his piano forte.
"You may not know that Kaohsiung is the city where many Hong Kong people emigrated to after 1997," said while in town recently. "I always hear people speak Cantonese in the subway there."
In fact, ties were so close that donations and relief supplies from Hong Kong were among the first to arrive in the southern Taiwanese city shortly after massive gas explosions last summer that killed 32 people.
To express his gratitude, Chen agreed to perform a concert, Pray for Kaohsiung, for a Hong Kong audience in November, only to find the city engulfed in Occupy Central, and the venue, the City Hall concert hall, right in the middle of the protests.
"It was a concert to say thank you to Hong Kong for the timely subsidies to Kaohsiung after the explosions," the soft-spoken, Austria-based pianist recalled.
The piano recital, he said, was put together on a tight schedule. Both the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and RTHK helped by allocating a venue slot on November 4 and promoting the concert on air, respectively.
"It was no easy thing to get a full-house audience during the Occupy Central protests because of the inconvenient traffic conditions," he said. "I was especially surprised that officials from both sides of the strait, Hong Kong and Macau, were in the audience. Hong Kong is truly unique as the platform for cultural exchange in the greater China region."
The programme began with Ave Maria, a soul-searching classic arranged by Charles Gounod from Johann Sebastian Bach's scores through which Chen wanted to convey tranquillity to the city. The peace motif continued with the next piece, Love River by Taiwanese composer Lu Liang-hui, which Chen arranged into a piano solo for the Hong Kong premiere.
"The Love River is a landmark of Kaohsiung city and it was a pleasant surprise that the piece was very well received by mainland officials, who invited me to perform at future cultural exchanges in China," he said.
Chen is equally versatile in performing another river work, the boisterousYellow River Piano Concerto, which features such revolutionary tunes as The East is Red and The Internationale in the climaxes.
This piece took him to the opening of the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai - and then to Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles last summer, in front of an outdoor audience of more than 10,000.
There, he performed with Perry So, a conductor from Hong Kong who conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
At the end of this week, Chen will return to Los Angeles to deliver a pre-Lunar New Year programme at the Wallis Annenberg Centre for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. "It will be a new experience for me to play famous folk tunes from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, such as the much beloved Jasmine Flower, for piano and Chinese traditional instruments, including my own arrangements," he said.
"If I could get Under the Lion Rock into the programme, that would put Hong Kong into a concert about the greater China region," he laughed.

Music is the key -- English Interview by China Daily News 《中国日报》

In my recent interview with China Daily, China’s only national English language newspaper, I shared my passion for music.
在近期与《中国日报》的采访中, 我很荣幸与记者分享了我对音乐的热爱。《中国日报》创刊于1981年,是中国的国家英文日报.

Music is the key

Interview by China Daily News 《中国日报》

Jan 23, 2015

Rueibin Chen has given piano recitals across the world - from Moscow to Los Angeles. But his heart still beats for people from Chinese culture to whom he would like to pass on his legacy.
The internationally-acclaimed pianist Rueibin Chen has always believed in the overarching importance of music.

"Music is my life, my passion, my destiny," he said in Hong Kong recently before catching aplane to Los Angeles for his next performance.

Chen is a much sought-after performer and composer. He has won numerous awards andaccolades, proof of his love for the piano, which perhaps is matched only by his passion forcharity.Well dressed, but not extra vagantly, Chen wears a constant smile on his face.

Born in Tainan City in southern Taiwan, Chen was introduced to classical music by his father, anelementary school teacher who taught and loved music. "My whole family is musical," Chen says. "There was a piano at home before I was even born."

Chen's father bought the 120-year-old vintage piano with an ivory keyboard third-hand.
"They stopped making that kind of piano a long time ago," Chen says. "It means so much to me that I couldn't give it away to any museum."

He started taking piano lessons at the age of 5 from his father and uncle, who had won a pianochampionship in Taiwan. Chen was expected to practice four hours every day.
The lessonswould be recorded to be reviewed by his strict father after dinner.
Learning to play the piano was more difficult when Chen, was a child. It was hard to buyrecords then, so he would go to the city with his father on a motorcycle to find vinyl records of Beethoven compositions.The lessons he received were often erratically scheduled. "My uncle was living in the northernpart of Taiwan.

He would come down to my house once every six months to teach me somebasic(piano lessons), and I would write down notes and practice for half a year," Chen says.
At 6, the child prodigy won his first piano competition in Taiwan, playing Beethoven's pianosonata Pathetique.

At 10, he made his debut as a concert pianist with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. Three years later, he was training at the Vienna Conservatory under master teacher Dianko Iliew, theyoungest student in his class.

A world apart

In Vienna, Chen devoted all his time to practicing piano and going to the opera. He lived in as habby building with no elevator, and a common toilet,
as this was where neighbors would notcomplain about his constant practicing.

As he could only afford the cheapest standing tickets, hewould stand listening to aconcert or an opera for hours together, completely lost in the music.

"Being a true music fanatic, I went to almost 100 opera performances, " he says." I was amazedbecause it was impossible at the time to have such access to classical music in Taiwan or even(elsewhere in Asia)."

After graduating with a diploma in piano performance with the highest marks, he continued tostudy under maestro Arie Vardi at the Hannover Hochschule fuer Musik, Theater und Medien and received the soloist's examination award.

Later he studied with the world-renowned Russianpiano virtuoso Lazar Berman, as his only disciple from Asia.

"It is very important to understand the Western culture before you can perform their art," he says. "Your audience can tell whether you have an understanding of their culture and music."

Chen has performed around the world, from the Americas to Europe and Asia, and amazes his audience each time.

"I have audiences leaving messages on my fan page saying that they thought I was Russian inmy previous life and that my soul was Russian," Chen says, laughing. "Some ladies fromMoscow told me they were so impressed that I spoke their musical language so well.

"When I play, I put myself into the time, the weather, the atmosphere the music describes."
Chen has won many international piano competitions and awards such as the Boesendorferprize in Vienna. He has been named Best Young Artist by Taiwan's "minister of culture", andwon the Best Prize for Contributions to Music at the Salzburg International Music Festival, and the Albert Roussel Prize in Paris.

The beauty of giving

For all his achievements, Chen remains modest.
"I don't have a definition of success. I don't know if I'm successful yet," he says with a laugh.
"I never thought of having audiences enjoy my performances as being successful but it, indeed,has always been one of the driving forces of my entire career."

When he is not performing, Chen conducts master classes in places like the New England Conservatory in Boston and the Master Player InternationalMusic Academy in Lugano,Switzerland. He wants to pass on what he has learned, "especially (to) students coming from Chinese culture".
Charity is another of Chen's passions. "If I wasn't a pianist, I would have worked in charity forsure," he says.

He holds free concerts for the underprivileged whenever he can. He once put 200 wheelchairs in the VIP area of a venue to make sure those in the audience with special needs could enjoy his music.

In 2012, Chen organized the first "National Piano Competition for Disabled Youngsters" inTaiwan. The winners performed with him before an audience of about 2,000. "I want to let themknow that everyone is entitled and able to enjoy music,"
he says.
Every year he takes time off from his grueling performance schedule "to create new music". Inrecent years, Chen has done a lot of collaboration and premiering of new solo and pianoconcerto works in addition to his solo recitals and orchestral performances of classical repertoire.

"My father wanted me to become a teacher like him," says Chen. "Now I've proved that I chosethe right way for myself and they're very proud of me."

Lunar New Year Celebration with Artist Rueibin Chen - Interview by CNN

It was so great meeting the very stylish reporter Ms Joyce who is a classical pianist and jazz musician by training. See her report on CNN (1) :

Lunar New Year Celebration with Artist 

Rueibin Chen

Posted by CNN 

February 17, 2015 | Beverly Hills, California

I had the unique opportunity to interview world renown artist and pianist Rueibin Chen best-selling classical recording artist.
Mr. Chen was performing shortly after I interviewed him with L’Ensemble du Ciel playing Chinese instruments. He was the featured performer for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts Lunar New Year Celebration for The Year of the Sheep.
I am a trained classical pianist and jazz saxophone player myself and I have a great respect for people that play and for those that play as well as he does.
He grew up as child prodigy and studied in Vienna. When he was making his debut with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra at age ten, I was learning to play the piano and had surpassed playing chopsticks. I started playing when I was 9 years old, he started playing when he was 3 years old, which explains why he is being interviewed.
Today he performed in a unique program where East meets West utilizing Chinese instruments. Despite the fact that I am Chinese, I am unfamiliar with the instruments of an erhu, pipa and gaohu but am familiar with a Chinese bamboo flute.
He is a music lover. His passion for music is evident when you speak with him and even more so when you hear him perform. He told me, he loves to play, to perform the music for an audience. To him “music is the best language for me, to communicate with people.”
Chen’s most prized prize…. in Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel from the former president of Israel, who had just himself received the Nobel Prize. “My great memory is because I received the prize from this great person.”
He would like the audience to remember him as an artist, not as a pianist. “I come to stage to make art.” R