Phyllis Chen, Toy Piano/ Piano
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Uploaded on Dec 14, 2009
Praised by The New York Times for her "delightful quirkiness matched with interpretive sensitivity," Phyllis Chen's artistic pursuits take her in numerous directions as a toy pianist, pianist, composer and performance artist. Ms. Chen was named a New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2007 Concert Artists Guild International Competition. She creates original multi-media compositions using toy pianos, music boxes, electronics and video, which she offers in concert alongside works by prominent 20th century composers such as John Cage and Julia Wolfe.
The 2010-11 season features the launch of The Looking Glass ReWondered, Ms. Chen's latest multi-media project (and collaboration with video artist Rob Deitz) inspired by fairytales with a focus on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. In October she tours Europe with stops at the Approximation Festival in Dusseldorf, Madame Claude in Berlin and the Kraak Festival in Ghent. Spring 2011 is highlighted by two Brooklyn-based residencies: one at Barbès Bar & Performance Space focusing on cross-genre collaborations; and with NYC City Tech Theatreworks and Entertainment Technology to workshop and launch "Down the Rabbit Hole" (a NYSCA-funded CAG commission). US performances include those at WNYC's Greenspace, Impulse Artists Series in Houston and University of Dayton.
In September 2010 Ms. Chen releases her second CD, Mesmers, at Barbès Bar. The disc is a mini-album featuring all original works for toy piano, bowls, music boxes and electronics. Her debut CD, UnCaged Toy Piano, was released on CAG Records in fall 2009 to critical acclaim.
Ms. Chen's 2009-10 season featured Sounding Off with cellist Johannes Moser, a six-city US tour with performances in San Diego, San Francisco, Malibu, Boulder, Detroit and culminating at New York's (Le) Poisson Rouge. The Los Angeles Times reviewed the Malibu performance calling Ms. Chen "...a bold pianist with an excellent sense of color" and "...a dazzling delight." Ms. Chen's engagements included the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, Portland Piano International, New York's Look & Listen Festival and World Music Festival in Chicago.
In 2008--09, Ms. Chen appeared at the Thalia Theatre at Symphony Space in a concert reviewed by The New York Times, which declared: "This was stylish, beautifully measured playing, lightly pedaled, crisply articulated and texturally transparent." In the spring of 2009, she was the featured musician for the world premiere and ensuing six-week run of Stephin Merritt's Off-Broadway production, Coraline.
The UnCaged Toy Piano Competition is an annual event created by Ms. Chen in 2007 as a forum to expand the repertoire for toy piano and electronics. By the second year, this call-for-scores received over 100 submissions from eleven countries. Ms. Chen is a member of ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), a Chicago and New York-based collective dedicated to the performance of new works.
Ms. Chen's traditional piano credits include honors at the International Bartok/Kabalevsky Piano Competition and the Marjorie Barnett Competition of Chicago where she received a special Bach Prize for her performance of the Goldberg Variations. She has performed on the Dame Myra Hess Series at the Chicago Cultural Center, aired live on WFMT Public Radio.
Phyllis Chen attended Oberlin Conservatory as a recipient of the Dean's Talent Award Scholarship and received a Masters Degree from Northwestern University as an Eckstein Merit Scholar. While working on her DMA in piano performance at Indiana University under the tutelage of André Watts, Ms. Chen hosted her own radio program, The Toad's Wart, on IU's radio station WIUX-LP.
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