Pianist dazzles the world, Los Alamos

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By Special to the Monitor

The next performer to grace the stage at Duane Smith Auditorium in the Los Alamos Concert Association’s “Jewel of a Season” will be pianist Jie Chen. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. March 21. Chen will also present a master class on March 22.

Chen, from Guangdong in the Canton Province of China, began playing the piano at age 4 and was accepted into the prestigious Shanghai Conservatory at age 8. At the age of 13, Chen was admitted to the Curtis Institute of Music as the recipient of a merit-based full tuition scholarship.  She is continuing her studies at the Mannes College of Music with Jerome Rose in New York and is a Yamaha Pianos Artist.

On her 21st birthday, Chen won the first Villa-Lobos International Piano Competition’s Silver Medal, adding to her list of prestigious prizes – including the Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition in Israel, the Santander Paloma O’Shea International Competition in Spain, the Van Cliburn International Competition in America, the Piano-E-International Competition in America, the Washington International and the Missouri Southern International competitions. In 2006, she was awarded the Festorazzi Prize from the Curtis Institute for Best Pianist of the Year. The New York Times wrote, “She has shown she is more than a virtuosic clone.”

Chen has performed piano recitals in major concert venues throughout the United States and around the world.  She has appeared to rave reviews, including her major orchestral debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under Wolfgang Sawallisch playing the “Rachmaninoff Second Concerto” in 2001.  Other American debuts include concerts at Carnegie and Alice Tully Halls in New York, the Kimmel Center of Philadelphia, the Bass Performing Arts Center in Texas, the Terrace Theater in the Kennedy Center, the Schubert Club in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Orchestra with Osmo Vanska and the New Jersey Symphony with Neemi Jarvi.  

Internationally, she has performed with the Vienna Chamber Orchestra with Phillip Entremont, the Sanremo Sifonica in Italy, the Israel Philharmonic, the Sinfonia Varsovia of Poland, the Orquesta Sinfonica de Madrid with Jesus Lopez-Cobos, La Salle Cortot in Paris and more.

Saturday’s program will begin with the “Piano Sonata in A Flat Major, Hob. XVI/46,” by Haydn, followed by the Busoni transcription of the “Chaconne from the Partita No.2 in D minor” by Bach.  The first part of the program will close with two Chinese folk songs arranged by Wang Jianzhong, Liu Yang River and “A Hundred Birds Paying Respect to the Phoenix.” Following intermission, the concert will conclude with the “Ballades Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4,” by Chopin. Chen will offer a master class at 1 p.m. March 22. The class will be held at Fuller Lodge.

All interested students and teachers are invited to observe. Call or e-mail Evelyn Petschek at 202-997-3460,             evelyn@petschek.com, for more information. The master class is sponsored in part by Dr. Joseph D. Matthews DDS.  Concert support is provided by the Los Alamos Lodgers’ Tax Fund.

Individual tickets are $35 for adults and $30 for seniors.  For this concert, families of piano students may purchase one adult or one senior ticket and another ticket for $15. Children age 5-18 may attend at no charge but need a ticket.  Children must be at least age 5 to attend the concert and an adult must accompany children younger than age 12.  Tickets may be purchased  at CB Fox, Otowi Station Bookstore, Smith’s Food and Drug in White Rock, Nicholas Potter Bookseller in Santa Fe and at the door.  For additional information, call 662-9000 or visit www.losalamosconcert.org/.