Monday, September 10, 2012

The Prodigy

The Abbotsford Youth Orchestra presents

The Prodigy
Kevin Chen (7-Year-Old Child Prodigy)
Director: Calvin Dyck
Guest Artists: LCMS Cello Ensemble
Saturday, October 13, 7 p.m.
South Abbotsford Church, 32424 Huntingdon Road
Tickets: Adults $20; Students $10
Kings Music and House of James

Seeing is believing!

There are child prodigies then there’s Kevin Chen of Calgary! At age five he began music studies; at six he was the youngest in Canada to take and pass the Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music exams, and this summer, at age seven, he passed his Grade 10 - both with first-class honours! This past spring he performed an 80-minute debut recital featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy and achieved national recognition after his performance at the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival. He can easily learn three Grade 10 pieces a week, has transposed Bach while sight-reading, and that’s just the beginning!

This fall, Kevin, the youngest member of the Mount Royal Conservatory of Music Academy, will be making his first concert appearance with an orchestra as guest soloist with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra as they present The Prodigy on Saturday, October 13 at 7 p.m. at the South Abbotsford Church.

When AYO director Calvin Dyck was adjudicating a music competition in Winnipeg this summer he met Colleen Athparia, Kevin’s teacher. “Colleen told me she was having a challenge staying ahead of her youngest student. After playing his first recital this spring he said to her, ‘That was fun, let’s do it again.’ We respect his tender age, yet because he likes to play we are encouraging him by giving him this opportunity. He will be performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 and because he is not very big, under 40 pounds in weight, we are bringing in a piano from Vancouver that has a very light touch.”

A Mini Mozart

While Kevin is exceedingly shy he is playful, loves to stand on one foot, and be ‘big brother’ to his three younger siblings. He is creative; he is an artistic genius. Calvin explains; “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.”

Remember Amadeus (the movie) and Mozart writing music directly to paper with no changes, no alterations? Young Kevin does likewise. He hears the music in his head but instead of writing on paper he composes directly to his computer. Says Calvin; “We will be doing one of his pieces but because he can’t play it himself (the chords are too big for his little hands) Colleen is coming and will play it for him.”

And there’s more!

Adds Calvin; “To fill out the program the AYO will be performing Mozart’s Symphony No. 17, (here Calvin chuckles – he’s into creative programming) and Handel’s Passacaglia. Joel Stobbe is bringing the Langley Community Music School Cello Ensemble (eight high level, dynamic and versatile cellists) to perform Death of an Angel. It’s a high-energy peace written by Astor Piazzola, the great Argentinean composer and father of the modern jazz-tango. The piece is written as a three-voice fugue, which has been expanded to a cello octet. It’s a lot of fun!” 

This is Abbotsford’s chance to not only hear a fantastic program of enjoyable, relaxing and yet exciting music but to also see a real prodigy perform, a youngster who is inescapably an inspiration for all existing and future musicians. That’s Saturday, October 13, 7 p.m. at South Abbotsford Church, 32424 Huntingdon Road, Abbotsford, BC. Tickets (adults $20, students $10) are available at Kings Music and House of James.

 For further information about Kevin Chen please visit the Calgary Herald article by Bob Clark at and accompanying video at .

There are now various articles about him on the Internet.

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