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18-Year-Old Canadian Kevin Chen Wins First Prize at the Rubinstein Competition

By Anya Wassenberg on April 3, 2023

Kevin Chen
Kevin Chen performs at the 17th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition. (Photo: video screen capture/Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition)

Canadian pianist Kevin Chen has won first prize in the 17th Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv. It’s the second major competition win in less than six months for the 18-year-old Calgary native, having garnered first prize at the 76th Concours de Genève in November 2022.

Canadian judge Janina Fialkowska posted the news on social media.

The Rubinstein Competition is one of the world’s prestigious piano competitions, initiated in 1974 with Maestro Rubinstein on the Jury. The list of former winners is impressive, including Emanuel Ax, fellow Canadian Janina Fialkowska, who sat on this year’s jury, Korean superstar Seong-Jin Cho, Daniil Trifonov, and Khatia Buniatishvili, among many others who are now pursuing international careers.

For the finals, Chen performed Mozart’s Concerto No. 27 in B-flat Major, K. 595, Brahms’ Trio in A Minor for Piano, Clarinet and Cello, Op. 114, and Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 1 in B-flat Minor, Op. 23.

Kevin Chen’s performance at the finals:

Kevin Chen, Canada’s rising star

Kevin Chen has been making his mark in the world of classical music since the age of 7, when he made his orchestral debut. By the age of 8, he’d been able to solve the Rubik’s Cube in 44 seconds, and made it to the CBC list of Top 30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians under 30.

A native of Calgary, Alberta, Kevin is continuing his studies at the University of Calgary with J. Marilyn Engle. He’s also participated in many master classes with Emmanuel Ax, Alessio Bax, Minsoo Sohn, and others. Kevin is also a prolific composer, and he’s written four symphonies for orchestra, along with piano concertos, many of which have been commissioned and performed.

He’s racked up an impressive series of competition wins.

  • First prize at the 76th Concours de Genève in 2022;
  • Kevin was the youngest-ever winner of the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition in 2021;
  • He won first place in the Mozart International Piano Competition in Switzerland in 2020;
  • He won the Hilton Head International Piano Competition in 2019;
  • 1st Prize at the International Piano e-competition in 2019;
  • Kevin garnered third place in the 17-and-under category at the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal Competition in 2015;
  • In 2013, at 8 years of age, he was the youngest Canadian to ever be awarded First Class Honours with Distinction in the ARCT Performer’s Royal Conservatory of Music exam;
  • In 2012, at 7, he won first place in the Canadian Music Competition, and made his orchestral debut with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra.

He’s going to need a bigger display case if he keeps up this pace.

Congratulations to a gifted young pianist.

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