Phyllis Chen, piano
Praised by The New York Times for her "delightful quirkiness matched with interpretive sensitivity," Phyllis Chenis a pianist, toy pianist and multimedia artist that performs original multimedia compositions and works by contemporary composers. The Chicago Reader says that Phyllis has "become one of the world's leading proponents of the toy piano." Her artistic pursuits take her in numerous directions as a toy pianist, pianist, and composer, leading to her selection as a New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2007 Concert Artist GuildInternational Competition. The LA Times simply states, "she is a bold pianist with an excellent sense of color."
Phyllis founded the UnCaged Toy Piano, a composition competition to further expand the repertoire for toy piano and electronics. The competition has received works from composers all around the world and these compositions become an integral part of her repertoire. A strong interest in interdisciplinary work led her to collaborations with video artist and electronic musician Rob Dietz with whom she created multimedia works such as The Memoirist, Pearlessence, Chroma and Carousel. The two of them are interested in co-creating new works that rethink the idea of live art and performance using music and visuals.
Recently, Phyllis was the featured solo musician for the world premiere of Stephin Merritt's Off-Broadway production, Coraline in May 2009 at the Lucille Lortel Theater in New York City. In this unique on-stage performance, Phyllis was the show's sole instrumentalist as a multi-keyboardist, big and small. Other recent premieres include a commissioned work by American ICE composer/percussionist Nathan Davis for toy piano and clock chimes premiered at Symphony Space as part of the Concert Artist Guild New Music/New Places Series. In May 2010, Phyllis will be premiering a new work "Whatever Shall Be" for toy piano, MAX/MSP, music box, gadgets and quadrophonic sound set-up by Austrian composer, Karlheinz Essl. The work will be premiered as part of the Look & Listen Festival in New York City.
Playing an instrument that has no set boundaries or genres, Phyllis has been invited to perform at a large variety of festivals and concerts, including the Chicago World Music Festival and Lotus World Music Festival, the distinguished Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Portland Piano International.
Lauded for playing Beethoven 1st Concerto "with amazing grace, with enviable clarity, and with finger work of both strength and elasticity" (The Herald Times, IN), Ms. Chen's traditional piano credits include honors at the International Bartok/Kabalevsky Piano and the Coleman Chamber Music Competition. Her victory at the Marjorie Barnett Competition of Chicago included a special Bach Prize for her performance of the Goldberg Variations, and as a result, Phyllis was invited to perform at Chicago Symphony Center's Buntrock Hall.She also performed on the Dame Myra Hess Series at the Chicago Cultural Center, aired live on WFMT Public Radio.
Phyllis 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. She is continuing to pursue her DMA in piano performance at Indiana University where she studied with André Watts. Phyllis currently resides in Astoria, New York.
For more information, www.phyllischen.net