A “thoughtful musician well beyond his years” (The Republic), pianist Sean Chen shares his “alluring, colorfully shaded renditions” (New York Times) and “genuinely sensitive” (LA Times) playing with audiences around the world in solo and chamber recitals, concerto performances,
and masterclasses. After winning the 2013 American Pianists Awards, placing third
at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and being named a 2015 Annenberg
Fellow, Mr. Chen is now a Millsap Artist in Residence at the University of Missouri-Kansas
Mr. Chen has performed with many prominent orchestras, including the Fort Worth, Indianapolis,
Kansas City, San Diego, Knoxville, Hartford, Louisiana Philharmonic, Milwaukee, North
Carolina, Pasadena, Phoenix, Santa Fe, and New West Symphony Orchestras, as well as
the Chamber Orchestras of Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and South Bay. He has collaborated
with such esteemed conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Michael Stern, Gerard Schwarz, Nicholas
McGegan, Miguel Harth-Bedoya, Marcelo Lehninger, and James Judd. Solo recitals have
brought him to major venues worldwide, including Jordan Hall in Boston, Subculture
in New York City, the American Art Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.,
the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Salle
Cortot in Paris.
Mr. Chen has served on the juries of notable piano competitions, including the Thailand
International Piano Competition, West Virginia International Piano Competition, Cleveland
International Piano Competition for Young Artists, and Steinway competitions around
the country. Given his natural inclination for teaching and approachable personality,
Mr. Chen is particularly in demand for residencies that combine performances with
master classes, school concerts, and artist conversations, which have brought him
to such institutions as the Cleveland School of Music, Indiana University, University
of British Columbia, University of Houston Moores School, Spotlight Awards at the
Los Angeles Music Center, Young Artist World Piano Festival, and several Music Teachers’
Associations throughout the country.
Mr. Chen has been featured in both live and recorded performances on WQXR (New York),
WFMT (Chicago), WGBH (Boston), WFYI (Indianapolis), KPR (Kansas), NPR’s From the Top, and American Public Media’s Performance Today. Additional media coverage includes a profile featured on the cover of Clavier Companion in May 2015, recognition as “One to Watch” by International Piano Magazine in March 2014, and inclusion in WFMT’s “30 Under 30.”
His CD releases include La Valse, a solo recording on the Steinway label, hailed for “penetrating artistic intellect”
(Audiophile Audition); a live recording from the Cliburn Competition released by harmonia mundi, praised
for his “ravishing tone and cogently contoured lines” (Gramophone); an album of Michael Williams’s solo piano works on the Parma label; and a recent
album of Flute, Oboe, and Piano repertoire titled KaleidosCoping with colleagues Michael Gordon and Celeste Johnson. Mr. Chen has also contributed
to the catalog of Steinway’s new Spirio system.
A multifaceted musician, Mr. Chen also transcribes, composes, and improvises. His
transcriptions of such orchestral works as Ravel’s La Valse, Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro, and the Adagio from Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2, have been received with glowing
acclaim and enthusiasm, and his encore improvisations are lauded as “genuinely brilliant”
(Dallas Morning News). His Prelude in F# was commissioned by fellow pianist Eric Zuber, and subsequently
performed in New York. An advocate of new music, he has also collaborated with several
composers and performed their works, including Lisa Bielawa, Jennifer Higdon, Michael
Williams, Nicco Athens, Michael Gilbertson, and Reinaldo Moya.
Born in Florida, Mr. Chen grew up in the Los Angeles area of Oak Park, California.
His impressive achievements before college include the NFAA ARTSweek, Los Angeles
Music Center’s Spotlight, and 2006 Presidential Scholars awards. These honors combined
with diligent schoolwork facilitated offers of acceptance by MIT, Harvard, and The
Juilliard School. Choosing to study music, Mr. Chen earned his Bachelor and Master
of Music from Juilliard, meanwhile garnering several awards, most notably the Paul
and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He received his Artist Diploma in 2014
at the Yale School of Music as a George W. Miles Fellow. His teachers include Hung-Kuan
Chen, Edward Francis, Jerome Lowenthal, and Matti Raekallio.
Mr. Chen resides in the suburbs of Kansas City with his wife, Betty, a violinist in
the Kansas City Symphony, and their daughter Ella. When not at the piano, Mr. Chen
enjoys tinkering with computers, and exploring math, science, and programming. Mr.
Chen is a Steinway Artist and is managed by Jonathan Wentworth Associates, Ltd.