Spectacular Virtuosity & Eloquent Storytelling – Pianist Sean Chen

In a magnificent performance, the phenomenal Van Cliburn bronze medalist Pianist SEAN CHEN, dazzled the sold out audience in Foxburg’s Lincoln Hall with his virtuosity and eloquent story telling!

Legendary keyboard geniuses of earlier generations took audiences on an inner journey revealing the composer’s poetic intent – as lyrically evocative emotional and musical meaning eclipsed technical virtuosity and bravura.

On Sunday, young pianist SEAN CHEN claimed that tradition as poet and weaver of musical tales.  The eloquently-contoured, opening lines of the first Schubert Impromptu were exquisite, as if beginning a story with hushed tones to draw in the listener. The Impromptus themselves ran the gamut of the emotional spectrum with sparkling clarity in Sean’s dazzling, easy facility. The seamlessly improvised interludes between the four Impromptus were elegant flights of musical fancy, enhancing Schubert’s creations (as inspired by his teacher Jerome Lowenthal). His delightful program commentary with rich personal insights charmed the audience.

His first standing ovation came before intermission, after his rhapsodic performance of Rachmaninoff’s arrangement of Fritz Kreisler’s “Liebesleid und Liebesfreud”. Many were in tears. His Schumann “Arabeske” was tender and passionate, attesting to his reviews of “breathtaking sensitivity”.

Finally, the performance of his own arrangement of the fourth movement finale of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony was monumental – with textures and voicings that evoked the full orchestra and satisfied without comparison. The subtly shaped unaccompanied melody of the bass soloist – “O Freunde” – soared with a vocalism and uncanny resonance that seemed to carry the text – inspiring hope and joy. This is a colossal, “monster” arrangement and his pianism was astounding! The audience roared and lept to its feet in a long standing ovation – a love-fest between artist and audience made more special by the intimacy of Lincoln Hall.

After the concert, Sean greeted the audience at the Red Brick Gallery opening reception for the exhibit of “Consciousness Reflected”.

The exhibit in the Upstairs Gallery drew a hundred people to view the luminescent portraits and abstracts of painter Jannick Wildberg and the evocative, mythical photographic constructions of ARCA Board member and RBG Cooperative Artist, photographer Dennis Keyes.

After the exhibit, Sean performed again for a small gathering in the barn of StoneRidge, the home of ARCA’s founder Board President, Dr. Arthur Steffee and his wife, Marybeth Hinds Steffee.

Sean delighted the small gathering of ARCA members and donors with an encore performance including his arrangement of Mozart’s Overture to the Marriage of Figaro, a Debussy prelude and the Rachmaninoff arrangement of Fritz Kreisler’s “Liebesleid und Liebefreud”.

The charming and down-to-earth Sean ended his evening listening to the stories of those gathered while enjoying a delicious meal catered by Zack’s in New Bethlehem with desserts from The Crow’s Cupboard in Parker – after which Dr. Steffee compared how extraordinary food and music both feed the soul.

Gratitude to ARCA Board members Dan and Karen Mortland for their very generous sponsorship gift, underwriting Sean’s debut performance at the Lincoln Hall Steinway.

Thank you, Sean Chen! We await his return to Foxburg and Lincoln Hall – when piano lovers in the region will not want to miss basking in his musical imagination. www.alleghenyriverstone.org

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