American Pianists Association Names Sean Chen Winner of Its 2013 Classical Fellowship
Further APA Performance in NYC, April 25, and Broadcasts
The American Pianists Association has named Sean Chen the winner of its yearlong competition. As the APA’s 2013 Christel DeHaan Classical Fellow, Chen is the recipient of a prize valued at more than $100,000 – one of the most lucrative available to an American pianist. An international panel of judges selected the 24-year-old on April 20, after he performed Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, led by Gerard Schwarz. During the two-year fellowship, Chen will perform recitals and concertos with orchestras around the United States, and make a solo recording for the Steinway label, distributed by ArkivMusic. Chen, who grew up in Oak Park, California, is a Juilliard graduate who is currently pursuing his Artist Diploma at the Yale School of Music.
Chen and the four American Pianists Association competition Finalists – Sara Daneshpour, Claire Huangci, Andrew Staupe, and Eric Zuber – will perform at New York City’s historic Trinity Church Wall Street on April 25 in the Concerts at One series. They will give the New York premieres of five APA-commissioned works by composers Lisa Bielawa, Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. The following afternoon, on April 26, Chen will be featured on WGBH-FM / Classical New England’s “Drive Time Live” in his first post-competition solo broadcast.
Judges for the final week of the competition in Indianapolis were Charles Hamlen, former Chairman of IMG Artists; Anthony Fogg, Artistic Administrator of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; and the noted international pianists José Feghali, Murray McLachlan, and Christopher Taylor, who won APA’s Classical Fellowship in 2000. The judges heard the five Finalists in an intensive series of concerto performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, solo recitals, chamber music with the Linden String Quartet, new music (the world premieres of the five APA commissions), and a song recital with soprano Jessica Rivera. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice served as Honorary Chair of the 2013 ProLiance Energy Classical Fellowship Awards of the American Pianists Association.
Joel Harrison, president/CEO and artistic director of the American Pianists Association, commented, “All the American Pianists Association Finalists are worthy of awards. Sean in particular played at a consistently high level of artistry and pianism throughout the year- long process, and I am enthusiastic about his future. He is a pianistic genius!”
Winner Sean Chen said, “This has been an incredible adventure, and much more than a typical competition. I play solo a lot, but to be able to collaborate with so many wonderful musicians has been exciting and very enlightening. I am honored to be the APA’s 2013 DeHaan Classical Fellow.”
Conductor Gerard Schwarz stated, “Sean Chen played beautifully all week, making real musical statements. The Bartók Concerto No. 2 that he played in the finals was stupendous. He brought this piece to life in a totally convincing way, and for me it was the best performance of this concerto that I have ever heard.”
The concerto concerts with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra were webcast live and will be streamed on-demand at the APA’s website: www.americanpianists.org. During the final week of the competition, called “Discovery Week,” the WFMT Radio Network gathered material for a nationally- and internationally-syndicated radio series about the APA that will start to air in October 2013. The journey of the five finalists is documented in the APA’s 2013 Gala Finals Retrospective video on YouTube.
Three separate panels of distinguished judges were involved in the APA’s yearlong competition. For the Premiere Series, in which each finalist spent a weeklong artist residency in Indianapolis during the 2012-13 season, the judges were pianist Frank Weinstock, recently retired from the faculty of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music; Evelyne Brancart, pianist and faculty member at Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University; and Stuart Isacoff, noted pianist, author, journalist and editor.
The selection process for the competition began in March 2012 when the Preliminary Series jury screened the applicants’ CDs and selected the five finalists. The Preliminary Series jury members were Paul Barnes, pianist and faculty member at the University of Nebraska’s Lincoln School of Music; Norman Krieger, pianist and faculty member at the University of Southern California; Elizabeth Ostrow, independent record producer and former Artistic Advisor to the Orchestra of St. Luke’s; Anne Schein, pianist and former faculty member at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University; and Jack Winerock, pianist and artistic director of the International Institute for Young Musicians Piano Competition and Festival at the University of Kansas.
About the APA Winner
Sean Chen, 24, is the winner of the 2013 Proliance Energy Classical Fellowship Awards of the American Pianists Association, one of the most lucrative and significant awards available to an American pianist. Chen is second prize winner of the 2011 Seoul International Music Competition, and a prizewinner in the 2009 Cleveland International Piano Competition. Born in Margate, FL and raised in Oak Park, CA, he has performed in Bucharest, Seoul, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, Miami, and New York. Chen received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the Juilliard School, where he won the 2010 Gina Bachauer Piano Competition, and he is pursuing his Artist Diploma at Yale School of Music with Hung-Kuan Chen. His teachers have included Jerome Lowenthal, Matti Raekallio, and teacher-mentor Edward Francis. When not at the piano, Chen enjoys tinkering with computers and composing.
About the American Pianists Association
The mission of the American Pianists Association is to discover, promote and advance the careers of young American classical and jazz pianists of world-class talents. Since its founding in 1979, the organization has supported 43 fellows. The 2009 Classical Fellows are Adam Golka, also a Gilmore Young Artist, who impressed the Washington Post with his “combination of brilliant technique and real emotional depth”; and Grace Fong, a “positively magical” (Cleveland Plain Dealer) winner of the Leeds International Piano Competition. Among the previous Classical Fellows are Spencer Myer (2006), Christopher Taylor (2000), Frederic Chiu (1985) and Sara Davis Buechner (1981). The American Pianists Association was founded as the Beethoven Foundation. In 1982, two of its founders, Victor Borge and Tony Habig, moved the national headquarters to Indianapolis.
About the APA Fellowship
Recognized by the New York Times for offering “profound early-career assistance” to world-class American classical and jazz pianists, the American Pianists Association showcased the five Finalists for its Classical Fellowship Awards throughout the 2012-13 season. The APA’s Fellowship offers one of the piano world’s most substantial prizes, valued at more than $100,000 – including a $50,000 cash award and two years of career assistance and performances. Performance opportunities during the fellowship period involve solo recitals as well as appearances with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and the symphony orchestras of Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Santa Fe and Tucson. Previous winners have been presented at the Kennedy Center, Phillips Collection, Dame Myra Hess Series and Chopin Foundation of America, as well as various recital series nationwide and on tours overseas.
Unlike any other major piano competition, the APA focuses equally on classical and jazz pianists. The prize is awarded every two years on an alternating basis to a classical or jazz pianist at the conclusion of the unique competition process that Performance Today radio host Fred Child has described as a “massive musical competition undertaking.” Since 1992, the Association has offered Jazz Fellowships, with the current award being the largest of its kind in the world. The 2011 Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz was Aaron Diehl, hailed by the New York Times as a “revelation”. Other former Jazz Fellows include Dan Tepfer (2007) and Aaron Parks (2001). The next Cole Porter Fellow in Jazz will be named in April 2015.
Upcoming APA events
April 25, 1pm
New York, NY
Trinity Church (Wall Street & Broadway)
Concerts at One
Performances by all 2013 competition pianists: Winner Sean Chen with Laureates Sara Daneshpour, Claire Huangci, Andrew Staupe and Eric Zuber
New York premieres of APA-commissioned works by Lisa Bielawa, Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Lena Frank, Missy Mazzoli and Sarah Kirkland Snider
April 26, 4pm
WGBH / Classical New England
Drive Time Live
First solo broadcast featuring Sean Chen, 2013 Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association
Listen live: http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Drive-Time-Live-1770
May 1, 9 pm
New York, NY
McGraw-Hill Companies Young Artists Showcase
Featuring Sean Chen, 2013 Classical Fellow of the American Pianists Association
Listen live: http://www.wqxr.org/#!/programs/youngartists/
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© 21C Media Group, April 2013
Published: April 22, 2013