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The Prodigy returns
‘That was fun. Let’s do it again!” said young prodigy pianist Kevin Chen last year after his first ever performance with an orchestra.
Now, at only eight years old, Kevin is returning to play with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra (AYO) — but this time, he’s bringing his own symphonic compositions.
Langley audiences will get another chance to hear Kevin play, when he returns to the stage at Langley Community Music School on Sunday, Oct. 6, nearly a year after his first performance in Rose Gellert Hall.
For someone who’s been around for less than a decade, Kevin already has an impressive number of accomplishments under his belt.
“After getting his ARCT (Association of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) diploma in June and placing first in the Canadian Music Competition in Montreal this summer, Kevin decided to write a couple of symphonies,” said AYO director, Calvin Dyck.
“He was inspired by the orchestra last year, so this year he is coming back for the AYO to play his first ever symphony — in a world premiere.”
A pint-sized Mozart
This shy, very childlike and innocent young boy is a highly unusual talent, and because he is so very small, when he is at the piano he requires a box with a system of levers that are his equivalent of pedals.
“Kevin is akin to Mozart with his incredible capacity for absorbing and memorizing music in a very short period of time,” said Dyck.
“He hears the music in his head when he looks at a score and while he is composing. He has a mature musical sensitivity that you usually only see in a seasoned artist; and he handles technical and musical intricacies with amazing ease.”
Creating like Mozart
While his solo piano writing is like that of a Chopin nocturne, Kevin’s symphonies are in the style of Mozart. “They are very melodic and immediate,” says Dyck. “He uses similar orchestrations to Mozart. That’s where his musical love is today, but as he grows older I imagine he will become interested in other styles.”
An incredible talent
At age five Kevin began music studies; at six he was the youngest person in Canada to take and pass the Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music exams; at age seven he passed his Grade 10 (with first-class honours); and now he has his ARTC diploma — and he’s only eight.
A real curiosity
His last performance in Abbotsford went really well — so well, in fact, that he received standing ovations and audience members wanted their picture taken with him.
“A film crew came out to make a documentary, and music teachers brought along their students,” said Dyck.
“There’s a real fascination with his talent.”
Colleen Athparia, Kevin’s teacher, will also be performing along with Dyck.
An international artist, author and RCM adjudicator, Colleen is a sought after teacher at the Mount Royal Conservatory, and considered one of Canada’s top four pianists of contemporary music.
Something new, something old
“While the AYO will be playing excerpts from Kevin’s First Symphony, and accompanying him on Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23, we are also doing the Overture to Rossini’s comedic opera The Barber of Seville,” Dyck said.
“This is one of the most loved and best recognized works in the classical/opera repertoire, thanks in part to its use in countless movies, commercials, and of course, a Bugs Bunny cartoon.”