Q&A – Rueibin Chen | Pianist: ‘Music is without boundaries’

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Rueibin Chen, a Taiwanese pianist, who performed at the 2010 World Expo in China,

started his career as a child prodigy and concert pianist at age ten when he made his debut with the Taipei Symphony Orchestra. Following that, he was named the Principal Soloist of “Moldova” Iasi and Tirgu Mures Philharmonic Orchestra in Romania.

In 2014, he was invited to perform with Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, which is the biggest outdoor venue in the U.S.

A Chinese Austrian born in Taiwan, Chen won a total of eighteen medals, including five gold medals, which were won before he was 20, in various international piano competitions in Tel Aviv (Rubinstein), Warsaw (Chopin), Salt Lake City (Bachauer), Athens (Callas), Vienna, Manresa, and Italy (Rome, Rachmaninoff, Bellini, and Stresa) to name just a few. Here’s what he told the Times:

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – What is your schedule looking like for this coming year?

Rueibin Chen (RC) – Currently, I am having events in Hong Kong. When I go to Hong Kong, it is not a must for me to go to Macau. In January, I will go to the United States to perform. I like Macau too much. I think Macau has a more mixed culture when compared to Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China. People in Macau, since ancient times, speak good Mandarin.

MDT – Which regions or countries leave you the most memorable experiences?

RC – I have performed in many eastern European countries, including Romania and Ukraine. Looking at them, their economy is not that good, but people’s participation in culture is high. I was once performing in Israel, and I won a prize. What I am very impressed about is not that I won a prize, but the person who delivered the prize to me. It was Yitzhak Rabin. Back in that time, he had just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Several months after I received the prize from his hands, he was assassinated.

MDT – Besides your performances, what have you been interested in working for in terms of music?

RC – I not only play Western music, but I am very focused on the communication between Western and Eastern music. Two years ago, I organized a symphony, which mixed traditional Chinese instruments and piano. First, many of our generation, of the next generation and of the one after are getting Western musical education. Many [aspects] of Chinese culture are good and very beautiful, but Chinese [people and the artists] maybe they have forgotten and they don’t know. When I was promoting our culture in the West, in the US, actually, people there like [our Eastern culture] very much. I will continue to promote the combination between the West and the East. These are my own cultures. I wish that, within my ability, I can promote them at a global scale.

MDT – As a Taiwanese pianist, how are you handling the relationships between people from Taiwan and China?

RC – I want to talk about this topic. If I am not wrong, I might be the musician, who was born in Taiwan, who showed up the most times in both sides for big celebrations. I played in the World Expo in Shanghai, Macau’s handover anniversary ceremony, Beijing International Film Festival, and I also played in the office of the President in Taiwan.  I think music is not just only about no borders, but it is without boundaries. If I can, I am willing to continue promoting musical communication between both sides.

MDT – Will you focus more on Chinese communities and on this part of the world in your future?

RC – If time allows me, I am very willing to spend more time here. In Macau, I have performed several times. My second language is German. As to the cultures from Europe, I am very willing to bring them back here [Asia].

MDT – Nowadays, how do you see Chinese students studying music, in particular their way of learning it?

RC – The parents should communicate more with children in terms of music, but not make it [instrument learning] a priority for students. It’s not that the students must reach a certain level or must win certain prizes. I have seen many examples of children who gave up learning it. They can’t handle the pressure. [Not only in mainland China], but in Chinese communities and Chinese culture. Talking from my own experience, […] I chose playing music as my career. I don’t think I am a pianist, I am a music lover. That makes me have no concerns so that I can keep on doing my job and like my performance. The west European musicians are the same as me, their parents did not supervise them. In the end, it is the [musicians’] own choice. Therefore, when they are performing, you can see that they have many different ideas, maybe everyone plays differently. Probably Chinese musicians, are seriously depending on the teachers and the parents. In the end, you can see that their skills are very good, but they are like coming from a mold.  On the good side, you have people supervising you. But as an artist, the society might hope to see something different.


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