Pianist Alec Chien Returns – International Prize Winner

“…An uncommonly strong musical personality and a very special ear for sound.”
New York Times

Enjoy a Golden Autumn Afternoon in Lincoln Hall on Sunday, November 10, 2019 at 2:00 PM as Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts welcomes back by popular demand acclaimed international competition winner and Steinway artist, ALEC CHIEN to perform a program of powerful Classic and Romantic master works by Beethoven and Schubert on Lincoln Hall’s Steinway.

Since winning first prize in the prestigious Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, Chien has concertized throughout the world, performing in solo and chamber recitals and as soloist with orchestras in countries on four continents, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Utah Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony, American Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic.

Alec Chien opens the program with the Sonata in B flat major by Franz Schubert, a favorite composer of his late father, and will perform two Sonatas by Ludwig van Beethoven so close to Chien, who performed all of the Beethoven sonatas in a series in recent years.  As a special treat for ARCA’s appreciative audience, after the intermission Alec Chien will offer program commentary, establishing the affinity between Schubert and Beethoven, who was Schubert’s idol, as well as pointing out the differences between the two masters – prior to performing the two Beethoven sonatas on the second half.

Join us for an unforgettable afternoon of consummate keyboard artistry from a world travelled and acclaimed pianist – as well as revelations and insights into the power of composer titans, Franz Schubert and Ludwig van Beethoven.

Tickets are $25 for Adults, $20 for Members and $5 for Students.

Western Pennsylvania is blessed to have claimed Alec Chien as its artistic native son, as he served as Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Music chairing the Music Department at the Allegheny College in Meadville, PA from which he retired in 2016.  Since 2013, Chien has served on the piano faculty of Carnegie Mellon University School of Music, where he teaches Piano Literature & Repertoire for graduate piano majors.  Chien also is a frequent chamber music collaborator with groups such as the Alexander String Quarter and has recorded with violinist Sergiu Schwartz works by Alexander von Zemlinsky and as well 24 Preludes of Ruth Schonthal for the piano.

The Program

SONATA IN B-FLAT MAJOR, D.960 ………………………. FRANZ SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

I.   Molto moderato
II.  Andante sostenuto
III. Scherzo – Allegro vivace con delicatezza
IV. Allegro ma non troppo.  Presto

I N  T  E R  M  I S  S  I O  N

SONATA IN F MAJOR, OP.54 …………………… LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

I.   In tempo d’un Menuetto
II.  Allegretto

SONATA IN A MAJOR, OP.101……………………LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

I.    Allegretto ma non troppo
II.   Vivace alla Marcia
III.  Adagio, ma non troppo con affetto
IV.  Allegro

ARCA members will be treated in the second half of the concert to insightful program commentary by Alec Chien.  Chien will establish the affinity between Schubert and his idol, Beethoven, as well as pointing out the differences between the two masters – prior to performing two Beethoven sonatas after intermission.

Since retiring from Allegheny College in 2016, where he was Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Music, Alec Chien’s passion for educating about music and sharing it with new audiences has continued.  Chien has brought his music to the Crawford County school districts, performing and speaking to students in both the high school and elementary school levels. His recitals have also been part of the Bicentennial Celebrations of the cities of Meadville, Erie and of the Allegheny College.

His wife Brenda who has witnessed his work in the community said, “A lot of people just don’t have a background in classical music. Alec gets so passionate about the music — and when he explains what’s going on, he just opens a new world to people. They’re hearing things and they’re excited about it. What a cool thing to get people involved in music through the neighborhood center or some forum in the community.”

Over the years, Alec has touched the lives of so many students and members of the community with his love and passion for music.  Kelli Shellito, a former student who is now an instructor of piano at Allegheny College, first met Chien while attending a music festival at the college.  She said, “After meeting Alec at this festival, he asked me to come study with him at Allegheny. I was very fortunate, as he became the most influential piano instructor that I studied with. He taught me amazing technique, how to bring out the true musicality of a piece and how to truly make a piano ‘sing.’”  Today, Shellito teaches her students in the same fashion he taught her, “with complete compassion, kindness and patience,” she said. “Alec played an enormous role in my musical education from instructor, mentor, colleague to friend.”

ARCA audiences will discover a new side of Alec Chien – whose keyboard artistry has been a favorite of Lincoln Hall audiences.  This quiet man – whose playing has taken him to four continents and has included performances as a soloist with major organizations including Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Utah, Atlanta, American and New Zealand symphonies as well as the Philadelphia Orchestra and Buffalo and Hong Kong philharmonics – is world class by any definition. However, as Lowell Hepler, Chien’s long-time colleague and chair of the Allegheny College music department, said prior to his retirement, what marks Alec as truly world class is not his playing. “It is Alec’s humanity and humility, combined with world-class talent, that makes him so incredibly unique.”

About the Artist

Pianist Alec Chien received his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral of Musical Arts degrees from the Juilliard School of Music, studying under Adele Marcus. Grand Prize Winner of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition and prize winner of the Sydney International Piano Competition, the Paloma O’Shea International Piano Competition, and the Affiliate Artists Xerox Piano Program, he has performed in solo and chamber recitals and as soloist with orchestras in countries on four continents, including Australia, Austria, People’s Republic of China, Greece, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and Taiwan.

Among the major symphony orchestras which he has been featured as soloist are the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, Utah Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, New Zealand Symphony, American Symphony and Hong Kong Philharmonic. He was one of the 25 Steinway artists performing at the Gala Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City to celebrate the piano company’s 135th anniversary as well as its 500,000th piano. That commemorative piano has been brought to Allegheny twice for his solo recitals. Chien is also actively performing in chamber music, having appeared with members of the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra as well as the Alexander String Quartet, the Cavani String Quartet and a performance with the Ariel Woodwind Quintet.

Having retired in 2016 from Allegheny College where he was Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Music, he had also given a 7-concert series of complete Beethoven 32 Piano Sonatas and an 8-concert series featuring major works by Schubert and Chopin.  A firm believer in bringing music to the community, where he was honored as Meadville’s  “adopted native son,” Chien has brought his music to the Crawford County school districts, performing and speaking to students in both the high school and elementary school levels.  His recitals have also been part of the Bicentennial Celebrations of the cities of Meadville, Erie and of the Allegheny College.

In the Fall of 2013, Alec Chien joined the piano faculty of Carnegie Mellon University School of Music where he is Artist-Lecturer in Piano Literature & Repertoire for graduate piano majors.

Active in his community, Chien is involved in local efforts such as Partner-in-Education, chairing the Meadville Neighborhood Center and presiding the Meadville Youth Vision Released Time.  He and his wife, Brenda, have three daughters – Brianna; Mikayla Trousdale with her husband Joel (and grandchildren Magnolia and Joel-Elliot); and Bethany Fields with husband Mike.

Over the years, Alec and his wife Brenda have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Allegheny College alumnus and ARCA Board President, Dr. Arthur D. Steffee and his late wife Patricia – frequently performing concerts for Allegheny RiverStone Center for the Arts in Lincoln Hall.

Dr. Arthur Steffee, Brenda Chien, Alex Chien and Patricia Steffee