2013 Cliburn Third-Prize Winner

Hailed as a charismatic rising star with “an exceptional ability to connect with an audience combined with an easy virtuosity” (Huffington Post), American pianist Sean Chen, winner of the 2013 American Pianists Awards and third-prize winner at the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, has continued to earn accolades for “alluring, colorfully shaded renditions” (The New York Times) and “genuinely sensitive” (Los Angeles Times) playing. He was named a 2015 fellow by the prestigious Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund for the Performing Arts.

Sean has performed with many prominent orchestras, including in Fort Worth, Indianapolis, and San Diego, and solo performances have brought him to major venues worldwide, including Jordan Hall in Boston, Subculture in New York City, the American Art Museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the National Concert Hall in Taipei, Het Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and the Salle Cortot in Paris. A multifaceted musician, Sean also transcribes, composes, and improvises. His transcription of Ravel’s La valse has been received with glowing acclaim, and his encore improvisations are lauded as “genuinely brilliant” (Dallas Morning News). An advocate of new music, he has collaborated with and performed works of many contemporary composers, including Lisa Bielawa, Jennifer Higdon, Michael Williams, Niccolo Athens, and Michael Gilbertson.

Born in Florida, Sean grew up in the Los Angeles area of Oak Park, California. His impressive achievements before college include the NFAA ARTSweek, Los Angeles Music Center’s Spotlight, and 2006 Presidential Scholars awards. These honors combined with diligent schoolwork facilitated offers of acceptance by MIT, Harvard, and The Juilliard School. Choosing to study music, Mr. Chen earned his Bachelor and Master of Music from Juilliard, meanwhile garnering several awards, most notably the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. He received his Artist Diploma in 2014 at the Yale School of Music as a George W. Miles Fellow. His teachers include Hung-Kuan Chen, Tema Blackstone, Edward Francis, Jerome Lowenthal, and Matti Raekallio.

Sean is currently living in Kansas City, where he is the Millsap Artist in Residence at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and his wife, Betty, is a violinist in the Kansas City Symphony.