ETSU pianist Dr. Yi-Yang Chen to give Carnegie Hall preview performance

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Oct 11, 2017 at 11:32 PM

It’s every composer’s dream to perform in New York City’s Carnegie Hall, and one East Tennessee State University music professor will get the chance to do just that.

Dr. Yi-Yang Chen, ETSU’s newest piano faculty member, will make his debut at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 18, following a free preview performance of his concert in the Brown Hall auditorium on Friday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

“It is probably the most exciting event in my life. I am humbled and thankful for another moment to make music,” Chen said of playing in Carnegie Hall.

As an experienced pianist who has been playing since the age of 8, Chen has become well-known for his abilities as an exceptional performer, winning dozens of competitions across the world over the years, including his most recent victories at the 2017 Washington International Competition, 2017 Virginia Waring International Piano Competition and 2017 Five Town Piano Competition.

"Yi-Yang showed an impressive breadth of emotional investment and natural affinity for the music he played. The informed individuality and command of his performance was immediately compelling to the judges. We feel this young man has a fine future as an artist. He seems to 'own' the piano as he plays, and this makes his performance extremely powerful," Dr. Robin McCabe, a judge at the 2011 Pacific International Piano Competition, said on his ETSU webpage.

Chen said his full-length solo recital will feature pieces from his classical influences such as Beethoven, Debussy, De Falla and Rachmaninoff; and an original composition about the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011 entitled “In Memoriam: Japan, March 11, 2011.”

“Since it’s the first time I'm playing Carnegie, I want to play some of the songs I love most,” he said. “There’s going to be some classical pieces, including some Beethoven and one of my own compositions reflecting the events when the earthquake hit Japan.”

Though Chen said he considers himself to be more of a pianist than a composer, he said the aim of his music is the same as it was with his favorite composers – putting the listener on an “emotional roller coaster.” Like many classical composers who made their music a reflection of the times and conditions around them, Chen said his most recent composition, inspired by the 2011 earthquake in Japan, was a way to express his feelings about the destruction that took place.

“I think music has power without words,” he said. “The reason I compose is to reflect the culture and society around me.

“As a pianist, I want to express my feelings with my music.” 


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