LSM Newswire

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chelsea Chen Debut Nov 23 | Walt Disney Concert Hall


SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 2008 AT 7:30 PM


Chelsea Chen, the brilliant 24-year-old organ virtuoso, will make her Los Angeles debut on the Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ Series on Sunday, November 23, at 7:30 p.m. The program is a rich mix of works from four centuries, including a piece written by Ms. Chen:

Marcel Dupr "Le Monde dans l'attente du Sauveur" from Symphonie-Passion

Louis Vierne Naiades from "Pices de fantaisie"

Chelsea Chen Taiwan Tableaux

Ola Gjeilo Sinfonietta

Paul Hindemith Sonata No. 1

J.S. Bach An Wasserflssen Babylon, BWV 653

Max Reger Chorale-fantasy on "Hallelujah! Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud!"

Ms. Chen will be playing from the detached, movable (electro-pneumatic) console on stage, which will allow her to hear the balance of the organ in the hall, and will give the audience a better sight line.

"I've always admired Disney Hall's scintillating architecture and organ design. There really is not a more 'hip' place to hear and play the organ! Originally, I thought of the organ only as a church instrument, and while I am passionate about that magnificent repertory, I am also dedicated to secular works that show off the organ's wide range of expression. I hope that the audience will enjoy both the traditional and the contemporary works on the program, such as my own "Taiwan Tableaux" and Ola Gjeilo's "Sinfonietta."


Tickets for the performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall (111 S. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles) are $24 to $49, on sale now online at; at Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office; or via credit card phone order at 323/850-2000. A limited number of $10 rush tickets for seniors and full-time students may be available at the Walt Disney Concert Hall Box Office two hours prior to the performance. Valid identification is required; one ticket per person; cash only. Groups of 10 or more may be eligible for special discounts for selected concerts and seating areas. For information, please call 323/850-2000.

About Chelsea Chen

With performances described as "electrifying" and "brilliant," Chelsea Chen elicits high praise for her exceptional command of the organ. She has already performed to great acclaim throughout the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. A Juilliard graduate and Fulbright scholar, she is broadening the classical organ repertoire with her own Asian-inspired compositions.

Ms. Chen recorded her debut CD and DVD, "Live at Heinz Chapel," on the Heinz Chapel organ in Pittsburgh, PA at the 2005 Convention of the American Institute of Organbuilders. Her playing has been broadcast on "Pipedreams" from American Public Media, Hawaii Public Radio, and Taiwan's Good News Radio.

In 2006, Ms. Chen was featured at both the American Guild of Organists Region IX Conclave in Las Vegas and the AGO National Convention in Chicago. In addition, she has appeared as soloist with the Juilliard Percussion Orchestra in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall and with the Musica Sacra Chamber Orchestra in Colorado. She premiered her own "Taiwanese Suite" (2003) and "Taiwan Tableaux" (2007) at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, and has premiered several works by Juilliard composers Teddy Niedermaier and Ola Gjeilo, all with great success. In collaboration with harpist Arielle, their organ and harp ensemble, Duo Mango, has championed new works by Paul Desenne, Yui Kitamura, and Roderick Gorby.

Ms. Chen has been the recipient of many awards including The Baker Prize for a top incoming organ student at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, The Charles Ives Prize for an outstanding organ major at the Yale School of Music, and The John Erskine Prize for scholastic and artistic distinction at The Juilliard School. In addition, she has taken first prizes in competitions including the 2005 Augustana/Reuter National Undergraduate Organ Competition, the 2003 Region IX AGO RCYO Competition, and the 2005 Musical Merit Foundation Competition. In 2006, she was an Aspen Music Festival full-scholarship recipient for piano.

Originally from San Diego, California, Ms. Chen studied piano from a young age with Jane Bastien and Lori Bastien Vickers. At fifteen, she began organ lessons with Leslie Robb, and later with Monte Maxwell. She then went on to study with John Weaver and Paul Jacobs at Juilliard, receiving her Bachelor's and Master's degrees. From 2003-06, she was organist at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and was a leader of the Juilliard Christian Fellowship. In 2006-2007, she composed, lectured, and performed in Taiwan as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. Currently, she is in the Artist Diploma program at Yale University studying with Thomas Murray.

The Unusual Works on the Program Notes by Chelsea Chen

Chelsea Chen: Taiwan Tableaux (2007)

"Taiwan Tableaux" is a suite of six short movements based on Taiwanese folksongs dating from the 1930s. In recent years, these popular melodies have been heard in arrangements for orchestra, traditional Chinese instruments, and a variety of other ensembles. Five years ago, I wrote the three-movement "Taiwanese Suite" for a concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in San Diego. The original idea was to showcase the colorful sounds of that outdoor organ. Later, I expanded that work during my Fulbright residency in Taiwan. Renamed "Taiwan Tableaux," it is dedicated to my father, who grew up in Taiwan.

Ola Gjeilo: Sinfonietta (2002)

Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo was a classmate of mine at Juilliard. Now based in New York City, he is critically acclaimed for his film, choral and instrumental music, which meld classical and jazz styles. In 2005, he approached me to give the U.S. premiere of "Sinfonietta." As the title implies, this is a "little symphony" in one movement for organ. The opening features spirited passagework for the hands and a solo pedal cadenza for the feet, inspired by Bach's Toccata in C Major, BWV 564. A modal chorale emerges in a reflective, middle section, and is the basis for the climactic chordal ending.

Louis Vierne: Naiades from "Pieces de Fantaisie"

Born virtually blind, French organist and composer Louis Vierne was organist for 37 years at Notre Dame in Paris. One of the first organists to tour internationally, he composed his "Pieces de Fantaisie" for an immensely popular American concert tour in 1926-27. "Naiades" -- French for water-nymphs -- features a never-ending stream of sixteenth-note scales in the right and left hands. The lush string and flute pipes of the organ are highlighted in this piece.

Marcel Dupr: "Le Monde dans l'attente du Sauveur" from Symphonie-Passion,

Op. 23

French virtuoso organist Dupr improvised a four-movement symphony at the world- famous Wanamaker Grand Court Organ in Philadelphia during his U.S. concert tour in 1921. Having been given four liturgical melodies on which to improvise, he recalled: "I played in a state of exaltation that I have rarely experienced." He returned to France and composed "Symphonie-Passion" based on his improvisation. The first movement, "The World Awaiting a Savior" (Le Monde dans l'attente du Sauveur), depicts a restless pre-Christian world with a series of hushed, rapid-fire chords growing in intensity. The middle section introduces Jesu redemptor omnium (Jesus, redeemer of the world), a traditional Christmas hymn. This melody is then combined with the agitated chords of the opening in a triumphant, fortissimo conclusion.

Max Reger: "Hallelujah! Gott zu loben, bleibe meine Seelenfreud!" Op. 52, No. 3

Reger wrote his three Op. 52 chorale-fantasias in 1900, angered by a review citing his "weakness of invention." "Hallelujah! Gott zu loben," the third and most victorious of the three fantasias, is a series of variations on a hymn based on Psalm 146. After five variations, he introduces a mammoth fugue in which the chorale returns in the pedal, triumphantly showcasing his compositional prowess while setting the text, "The Lord shall reign for ever, unto all generations."



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