On October 13th 2012 we attended a concert in our home town of Abbotsford. The concert was arranged and directed by Calvin Dyck, a local music teacher, virtuoso violinist, impresario and director of the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra. Topping the bill was a young pianist named Kevin Chen. In addition to a number of solo piano pieces, Kevin was going to be the guest soloist with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra in a performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #17. Nothing unusual so far in the information I have provided, but now let me tell you that Kevin Chen is only seven years old! It is time for you to see a picture of him.
Adorable isn’t he? A few days prior to the concert, articles about him appeared in our local newspapers, the Abbotsford News and Abbotsford Times. Here are some of the interesting facts about him that were shared in those articles.
Kevin and his family live in Calgary, Alberta.
He began his music studies at the age of six and within a year became the youngest person in Canada to pass the Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music exams. A year later, at the age of seven, he passed his Grade 10 exams with first class honours. In the spring of this year he performed an 80 minute debut recital featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy. He also performed at the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival, an appearance which gave him national recognition.
We have also learned that Kevin is already composing and has written more than 40 compositions. One of these, a piece for piano and violin, was performed in the concert by his piano teacher, Colleen Athparia and Calvin Dyck.
Calvin Dyck, who is a brilliant musician, has said this about Kevin, “Once every century somebody comes along who is so gifted they are like a Mozart. They assimilate music so quickly like it’s already a part of them, as natural as breathing. Whereas most normal people take weeks and months to learn a piece and understand the intricacies, for Kevin it is obvious.”
As Kevin performed, particularly the Mozart Piano Concerto #17, we sat and listened in awe. How could this performance be coming from a child only 7 years old? It was flawlessly performed and completed. He was called back again and again to the stage to take a bow and receive the applause of an audience that knew it had just witnessed something very, very special.
A reminder that he is just seven years old came out in something that was told us by a friend of ours (Janet Hitchcock, for those of you who also know her) who was sitting in the second row of seats and right behind the seat occupied by Kevin’s father. After all the bows and applause, Kevin was able to leave the stage and join his father. He ran up to his dad, face shining with excitement and exclaimed, “Daddy, I did it, I did it.”
I am going to give you two links to items on the Internet. The first is a YouTube video in which you can meet Kevin and his piano teacher, Colleen Athparia. Colleen explains something about the breadth of Kevin’s talent. The second is a link to a Royal Conservatory blog and a post giving a transcript of a question and answer session with Kevin.
Remember the name – Kevin Chen. We shall be hearing him and a lot more about him in the days and years to come.
“There are child prodigies, and then there’s Calgary’s Kevin Chen,” (Abbotsford News).