OSO presents the masterworks of a prodigy

Taking the stage alongside the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra is 12-year-old pianist Kevin Chen

The music he plays casts an image of a seasoned pianist with a talent steeped in years of ritual practice and performance.

Contrasting that image is the 12-year-old prodigious pianist Kevin Chen, who will take the keys alongside the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra for Prodigy! in Kelowna March 9, Penticton March 10 and Vernon March 11.

“I’m always skeptical about these prodigy stories. There’s no question they’re talented, I just wonder if they have something to say musically,” said OSO musical director Rosemary Thomson. “He really does have something to say.”

Chen, a Calgary product, first picked up the piano at age five. And, when he was eight-years-old, Chen attained his Associateship with the Royal Conservatory and was named to the top 30 classical musicians under 30 list.

“He became the youngest person in history to get his associateship,” said Thomson, who got her associateship at age 18.

The highest academic standings granted by The Royal Conservatory, associateships are the equivalent of a diploma in post-secondary education.

Now, four years and more than 80 original piano works written, Chen dabbles in writing orchestral work and has caught the attention of Thomson, who has kept a close eye on Chen for the past three years.

“He wrote a piece called Loud Sense,” Thomson said, adding that she expected a light and colourful composition from the young talent. “He wrote a piece about post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s a very dramatic piece.”

But, before Okanagan audiences get a taste of his original compositions, Chen will perform a classic and complex work from perhaps the most well-known prodigy: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

“Right away, he knew which concerto to learn,” Thomson said. “He has such a knowledge of the repertoire.”

Chosen by Chen, the 12-year-old pianist is set to perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20.

“He’s really looking to express something quite soulful,” Thomson said. “Sometimes, these kids have such a fascination (surrounding them) because they’re cute. Once they reach adulthood, they struggle to sand out for different reasons, but I don’t feel that with Kevin. His passion for the music, for me, is what’s interesting.”

Moreover, Thomson believes Chen’s prowess will inspire Okanagan pianists, young and old, to push themselves to new heights in their craft.

“We’re always looking for that way to motivate our kids to practice,” Thomson said, adding that while not everyone will posses the inborn talent of someone like Chen, practicing the craft can help muster an appreciation of prodigal composers. “I hope that every pianist in the valley will be at the show because he will be such an inspiration.”

In the second half of the performance, the orchestra will perform Igor Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, likely written by the widely-influential Russian composer during teenage-hood.

“It sort of applies to this theme of youth who have matured beyond their years,” Thomson said.

And to that end, Thomson said, Chen is the perfect fit.

“I think he’s really going to leave people speechless, not just because he’s an anomaly, but because he’s an artist.”

The OSO presents Prodigy, the fifth edition of the Chase Wines Masterworks Series, at the Kelowna Community Theatre March 9 at 7:30 p.m., Penticton’s Cleland Theatre March 10 at 7:30 p.m. and the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre March 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets for all shows are available for $56.25 adult, $49 senior and $26.75 student online at www.okanagansymphony.com.

Related: OSO takes a trip through Italian Goliaths (Masterworks Series IV)


@VernonNews
entertainment@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Retailers feel impact of generous return policies

Technology data tracking can clamp down on fraudulent abuse

Several thefts reported to the Revelstoke RCMP today

All took place between 4th St. and 8th St. East of Mackenzie Ave.

Revelstoke Skating Club hosts Christmas performance

The Revelstoke Skating Club hosted their annual Christmas performance last Thursday evening.… Continue reading

Two shutouts for the Grizzlies over the weekend

The Revelstoke Grizzlies played two home games last weekend against the Chase… Continue reading

Powder report: Rain in valley, snow on the ski hills

Get your ski gear ready as area mountains are ready for you to enjoy all the Interior winter has to offer this season.

‘Are we going to play?’ Alberta boy with rare illness no big deal for classmates

Porter Stanley is one of 30 people in the world to be diagnosed with Beare-Stevenson syndrome, a craniofacial disorder.

The prize was wrong: Man turns down trip to Manitoba

A New Hampshire man won the prize on “The Price is Right”, but turned it down because the taxes were too high

Publication ban on name of girl killed in Abbotsford school lifted

Reimer’s family had supported an application by Black Press to lift ban

Family saved but pets lost in Shuswap house fire

Firefighters manage to extinguish the blaze but a cat and dog perished

B.C. securities regulator probes ‘most expansive’ alleged trading scheme in its history

Liht Cannabis Corp states it’s doing internal investigation, welcomes BC Securities Commission probe

Air passenger rights: 6 things about what the Liberals are offering

For 3- to 6-hour delays, compensation is $400. Between 6 and 9 hours, $700. Over 9 hours is $1,000

RCMP, civilian vehicles rammed in North Okanagan incident

Police attempt to stop truck near Enderby, thought to be tied to alleged Salmon Arm armed robbery

New biker gang with ties to Hells Angels crops up in Lower Mainland

The Street Reapers were formed late last year and have been seen in Fort Langley.

10-lane George Massey bridge too big, B.C. study says

Consultants say replacement tunnel cost similar to new bridge

Most Read