Is this the new Mozart?
Calvin Dyck presents The Prodigy Kevin Chen with guest artists:
• LCMS Cello Ensemble
• Joel Stobbe, director
• Abbotsford Youth Orchestra
• Colleen Athparia, pianist
Sunday, Oct. 14, 3 p.m. at Rose Gellert Hall 4899 207 St.
Tickets: adults $22; seniors $20; students $10. Call: 604-534-2848
There are child prodigies, and then there is Kevin Chen of Calgary. At age five Kevin began music studies; at six he was the youngest person in Canada to pass the Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music exams, and this summer, at age seven, he passed his Grade 10 — both with first-class honours.
This past spring he performed an 80-minute debut recital featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy and achieved national recognition after his performance at the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival. He can easily learn three Grade 10 pieces a week and has transposed Bach while sight-reading. And that’s just the beginning.
This fall, Kevin, the youngest member of the Mount Royal Conservatory of Music Academy, will be making his first concert appearance with an orchestra as guest soloist with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra as they present The Prodigy on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. at the Langley Community Music School.
It all began last year, when AYO director Calvin Dyck met Kevin’s teacher, Colleen Athparia, while adjudicating a music competition in Winnipeg. “Colleen told me she was having a challenge staying ahead of her youngest student.”
“After playing his first recital this spring he said to her: ‘That was fun, let’s do it again.’
“We respect his tender age, yet because he likes to play we are encouraging him by giving him this opportunity.
“Kevin will be performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 and because he is not very big, under 40 pounds in weight, we have to be sure the piano has a ‘light’ touch.”
While Kevin is exceedingly shy, he is also playful, loves to stand on one foot, and be ‘big brother’ to his three younger siblings. He is creative; he is an artistic genius.
“Once every century somebody comes along who is so gifted they are like a Mozart,” said Dyck. “They assimilate music so quickly like it’s already a part of them, as natural as breathing. Whereas most normal people take weeks and months to learn a piece and understand the intricacies, for Kevin it is obvious.”
Remember Amadeus (the movie) and Mozart writing music directly to paper with no changes, no alterations?
Young Kevin does something similar. He hears the music in his head but instead of writing on paper he composes directly to his computer.
“We will be doing one of his pieces, but because he can’t play it himself (the chords are too big for his little hands) Colleen is coming and will play it for him.”
To fill out the program the AYO will perform Mozart’s Symphony No. 17, and Handel’s Passacaglia. The performance will also feature the Langley Community Music School Cello Ensemble performing Death of an Angel.
It’s a high-energy piece written by Astor Piazzolla, the great Argentine composer and father of the modern jazz-tango.
“The piece is written as a three-voice fugue, which has been expanded to a cello octet. It’s a lot of fun.”
This is Langley’s chance to not only hear a fantastic program of enjoyable, relaxing and yet exciting music but to also see a real prodigy perform, a youngster who is inescapably an inspiration for all existing and future musicians.
Rose Gellert Hall is located at 4899 207 St.Tickets ($22/$20/$10) are available at LCMS or by calling 604-534-2848.