Pianist Sean Chen is looking forward to a less stressful visit to Fort Worth.
Three years ago, Chen won third place in the prestigious yet grueling Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, where he played a rousing rendition of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3. On Thursday, he will perform more intimate pieces as part of a solo recital, presented by the Cliburn, at the Kimbell Art Museum.
“I get to see everybody at the Cliburn and hang out with them, and it will be a fun experience and not as stressful as during the competition — so that’s a good thing,” Chen said.
In an interview last week, we caught up with Chen about recent developments in both his career and personal life — including the important reason he has moved to Kansas City.
How have the last three years been for you as a professional pianist since placing at the Cliburn?
It has been quite busy. I played a lot of places, solo and concerto and a little bit of chamber music as well. I’ve gotten to see a lot of places in the country and a few places outside of the country and meet lots of conductors and musicians. It’s been very fun, busy and rewarding.
You were recently awarded $100,000 by the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship Fund. What have you done with the grant money?
It allowed me to get a lot of projects done, and I also planned an artistic retreat to Europe. It was mostly in Berlin as part of the fellowship. I got to hear the Berlin Philharmonic.
Along with some other prize money, I got a piano. I got a Steinway and got some recording equipment and put the money towards getting scores and music-related costs.
How did you choose the pieces for your solo recital at the Kimbell?
I was planning on doing one of my own transcriptions of a movement from a Rachmaninoff symphony, but it didn’t end up working out. But the Bach-Godowsky (Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major) is originally a cello suite but arranged by Godowsky for piano. It’s a pretty neat piece. When Godowsky did the arrangement, the cello suites weren’t as popular as they are now.
There are a few unknown pieces. The Copland (Piano Variations) can be a little difficult to understand, but the Copland and the Moonlight Sonata (by Beethoven, also on the program) share the same tonal center, so that’s kind of cool.
You got married earlier this month. Any plans for a honeymoon or is your concert schedule too busy?
We will probably take a trip sometime next year, but my wife (a violinist) joined the Kansas City Symphony recently, and their season is starting up, so we moved to Kansas City. . . . I’m traveling, so it will have to wait.
- 7:30 p.m. Thursday
- Piano Pavilion, Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth
- 817-212-4280; www.cliburn.org