Los Alamos pianist Julia Chen. Courtesy photo
Julia Chen, a 12-year-old pianist from Los Alamos—having appeared in last week’s news as the Mountain Club 2017 State Swim Champion—trades in her swim cap this weekend for the keyboard of a 9-foot Steinway Concert Grand.
Chen, who although having studied piano only four years, has shown a “great dedication to the piano along with a developing command of advanced repertoire,” according to her teacher, Dr. Madeline Williamson of Los Alamos Piano Studio.
Chen’s teacher nominated her for the honor of being one of four students who will perform in a Piano Master Class of Artist Yi-Heng Yang, at 10 a.m., Saturday, March 25, in Santa Fe’s First Presbyterian Church. The Master Class is sponsored as part of the educational outreach of Serenata Chamber Music of Santa Fe. Serenata’s Artistic Director, Pamela Epple, requests applications from young piano artists throughout New Mexico as participants in the class and makes the final decision on the four participants.
Chen was very surprised to have been selected and stated, “It is a real honor and surprise for me to have this performing opportunity. I appreciate the confidence my teacher has in me and am excited to be playing for a much larger audience than usual.”
Both Chen and her parents, Haidan Yan and Houtong Chen, will receive free tickets for Yi-Heng Yang’s Sunday afternoon 3 p.m. concert at the First Presbyterian Church at 208 Grant Ave. The chamber program features exciting works associated with the Paris avant garde, including works of Messiaen, Fauré and a World Premiere by Alexandra du Bois.
Yi-Heng Yang has been noted by the New York Times for her “astonishing skill and vividness”, having performed for Serenata in three previous concerts. For the Master Class with pianist Yang, Chen will be performing Scherzo in D minor, Op. 10, by Clara Schumann (1819-1896), a work that is both virtuosic and tender.
Chen says that not only does she really love performing this work but she also “has a special connection with it because Clara Schumann was the world’s first great woman pianist and performed it often herself.” Chen was the 2016 First Place Winner in her division of the Dennis Alexander Competition in Albuquerque, performing in UNM’s Keller Hall and also was First Prize Winner for 2016 in the Santa Fe Sonata Contest.
She has been either a Second or Third Prize Winner for three consecutive years in the District Honors Competition of the Professional Music Teachers of New Mexico. Her other working repertoire includes a Scarlatti Sonata; Mozart Sonata, K. 283; Dianne Goolkasian-Rahbee’s Ballade: Twin Towers Flashback; and Robert Muczynski’s Desperate Measures Variations.
As evidenced last week, Chen also is a champion athlete in swimming. She is an avid young mathematician as well, participating in Math Counts competitions; plays the flute in concert band and the violin in orchestra; and very much enjoys reading, creative writing and traveling with her parents.