Gwhyneth Chen (Taiwan/USA)
Ms Gwhyneth Chen (檔穈薉) is a Taiwanese-American pianist who in 1993, won the biggest cash prize in the history of piano competitions, ($100,000.00.) Ms. Chen, then a young woman of 23, was the youngest contestant at the Ivo Pogorelich International Piano Competition. Subsequent to the award, Mr. Pogorelich himself said of her talent, “She is too good to be true.” Immediately recognized as one of the foremost pianists of her generation, the victory was broadcast internationally on CNN television. In recent years she has played joint concerts with Ivo Pogorelich in Switzerland and in Taiwan.
Born in Taiwan, Ms Chen emigrated to the United States with her family in 1980, where she continued her musical studies with Eduardo Delgado, Robert Turner, and Aube Tzerko. She received her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Juilliard School. While in New York, her teachers were Martin Canin, Byron Janis and Yin Cheng-Zong.
At the age of 12, she was the first prize winner of the 50-state National Piano Competition, by the Music Teacher’s National Association. Tree years later she won the National Competition again, setting a record by winning both Junior High and the Senior High Competitions. She continued by winning Grand Prize in the international recording piano competition, competing in the college division when she was only in high school.
At the age of nineteen, she was a finalist in the 1990 Tschaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. She was also awarded the “Best Lady Prize” for being the only female finalist. In 1992, she was the bronze medalist, this time in the Prokofieff International Piano Competition, in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1991 Gwhyneth was the first prize winner in the Tomas Richner International Piano Competition in New York. She was the grand prize winner of the International Web Concert Audition Competition in 1999 in New York. As the Grand Prize winner of the Young Keyboard Artists National Piano Competition during her senior year of high school she won a grand piano.
A leading Chinese musical figure, Gwhyneth Chen was included in the 1995 edition of the One Hundred Most Successful Chinese People and appeared in a nationally televised gala concert at the Presidential Palace in the presence of President Lee of Taiwan. In 2002, she was invited to perform and speak in Washington DC during the First Lady Wu Shu-chen’s, Peace Journey to the United States. In 2008 she performed at the inaugural festivities for the newly elected President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou.
Ms. Chen represented her country with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Lu Shao-chia, as “the Pride of Taiwan” in the opening concert in the National Grand Teatre (“Steel Egg”) in Beijing, China, to celebrate the 2008 Olympics.
Ms. Chen’s CD on the Chimei label, “Gwhyneth Chen: Chopin Favorites,” celebrating Chopin’s 200th anniversary, won “Best Performance” in the Golden Melody Awards in 2011.
Ms Chen has appeared as a soloist with a number of orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Moscow Radio Symphony, Greenville Symphony, Bergen Philharmonic, Kyushu Symphony of Japan, Taiwan National Orchestra, Shanghai Symphonic, Moscow State Philharmonic, Pasadena Symphony, Pacific Symphonic, Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, Taipei City Symphony, Fort Worth Symphony, Orchestre Fresnes, Zagreb Philharmonic, and Lake Placid Symphonietta. She was engaged to play with the Miami Symphony for six consecutive seasons. Ms Chen has collaborated with David Atherton and the Hong Kong Philharmonic on a tour of the United States and Canada, with Vladimir Fedoseyev and the Moscow Radio Symphony throughout North America and Mexico, and completed a tour of Taiwan with the Russian Philharmonic under Vladimir Ponkin. For the extravagant debut of the New Colorado Symphony, she was chosen as the first soloist performing the Tschaikovsky First Piano Concerto before a crowd of 15,000 at the McNichols Stadium.
In 1994, Gwhyneth Chen made her recital debut in Munich at Herkulessal, followed by a recital tour of Croatia and Spain. That same year, she played the opening concert of the season in the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory with the Russian National Orchestra under Mikhail Pletnev performing the Rachmaninoff Tird Piano Concerto. In 1999, she made her New York debut at Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center.
A popular figure at international festivals, Ms Chen has frequented the Aspen Music Festival, Montreal Music Festival, Pogorelich Festival, Bowdoin Music Festival, Chopin Festival in Majorca, Chopin Festival in Poland, Chopin Festival in Hanover, Chopin Festival in Vienna, and the Lake Placid Music Festival. In 2010, she performed the complete Chopin Nocturnes at the Chopin Festival in Taiwan, commemorating Chopin’s 200th Anniversary. In 2011 she performed the twelve Transcendental Etudes of Liszt, for Liszt’s 200th anniversary.
Her extensive concertizing career has thrilled audiences in halls such as the Kennedy Center, San Francisco’s Davies Hall, the Los Angeles Music Center, Vancouver’s Royal Teater, Victoria’s Orpheum Teatre, the National Concert Hall in Taiwan, Instituto Nacional de Bellas Arts In Mexico City, the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory, the Tschaikovsky Hall of Moscow, and Debussy Hall in Cannes. She conducted a solo recital tour of Estonia in the Eduard Tubin Music Festival.
A frequent benefactor of charitable events, Ms. Chen performed a successful benefit concert for the 2011 Japan Disaster Relief in collaboration with Buddhist Tzu Chi Organization of Northern California. She has donated her talents to concerts for the Fountain Project of Northern California, the American Cancer Society and the City of Ten Tousand Buddhas, and the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association’s branches. She has been a jury member in the Taiwan Chopin Piano Competition in 2005 and 1999, the 2003 First Taiwan International Piano Competition, the 2003 Asian Division of the 6th Monopoli International Piano Competition, and the 1998 Taiwan Young Artists International Competition.
She was on the faculty for the Perugia Music Festival in Italy in 2010. In 2013 Gwhyneth was the recipient of the inaugural Distinguished Humanitarian Award, presented by the Hsuan Hua Foundation of Taiwan. She was cited for her contribution to the integration of arts and spirituality. In 2014 she was awarded the Filiality Award given by Taiwan’s Filiality Association, which names annually one exemplar of the highest expression of traditional Chinese culture. Gwhyneth Chen is a Steinway Artist and was recently featured by Steinway & Sons in the global promotional video for the innovative Steinway Spirio, the world’s finest high resolution player piano. Gwhyneth is a vegetarian, and since 1993, has integrated aspects of Buddhist spirituality into her musical training.