Pianist to play Sunday

Praised for his “ravishing tone and cogently contoured lines,” 26-year-old pianist Sean Chen has delighted audiences and critics alike with an impeccable technique coupled with acute artistic insight.

The first American since 1997 to earn an award in the world-renowned Van Cliburn competition, Chen took third prize in 2013. Less than a month ago he was awarded the prestigious $100,000 Lenore Annenberg Music Fellowship.

Kauai audiences will have the opportunity to hear this charismatic rising star in person at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Kauai Community College Performing Arts Center.

“I first started playing when I was 5 years old, and I was immediately attracted to this whole new world of musical sound,” Chen said in a phone interview. “Once I started playing in competitions a few years later, I found myself practicing anywhere from three to six hours a day.”

It’s a regimen he maintains to this day.

With so much of his time spent commuting from engagement to engagement, Chen whiles away all of those airplane hours studying musical scores and plotting out his concert programs.

“It’s important to practice efficiently as opposed to just putting in a lot of hours,” he said.

Chen also took a variety of science and computer courses at Columbia University while completing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Juilliard School of Music. His advice to young musicians includes keeping a healthy attitude.

“Enjoy it. Otherwise, it becomes tiring and stressful,” he said.

Johannes Brahms “Variations on an Original Theme,” Chopin’s “Etude in G-sharp Minor,” Debussy’s “Etude No. 2”, Rachmaninoff’s “Etude-Tableau in C-sharp Minor,” and Franz Liszt’s staggeringly difficult transcription of Richard Wagner’s overture to the opera “Tannhäuser.”

Info: Kauai Concert Association president Jason Blake at (808) 652-5210.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $10 for students, at the door.


Greg Shepherd is a music professor at Kauai Community College and the former classical music critic for the Honolulu Advertiser.


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