Han Chen, Honens’ Finalist and Reyburn prize winner, visits Vancouver

Taiwanese pianist Han Chen missed our major snowfall by one week but that did not prevent him from having an authentic Canadian, West Coast experience!

He arrived at YVR quite late on Thursday but was greeted by Ms. Ellen Liu from Tom Lee Music and artistic director, Ms. Jennifer West.  Of course, Tim Horton’s snacks and beverages made for an appropriate Canadian welcome.

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Pianist Han Chen being welcome in Canadian style. His first time to BC!

Friday, February 1, 2019 was Mr. Chen’s highly anticipated Vancouver-début.  He played stunningly on a gorgeous Steinway-D generously provided by Tom Lee Music.  The program of Schubert, Ravel, and Liszt was an instant hit with the audience and he received a standing ovation!  As the audience was not prepared to let him leave, Mr. Chen obliged us with a beautiful Taiwanese folk song transcription for his encore.  Thank you to Spirit of Life Lutheran Church for the use of your space for this special performance.

We celebrated Mr. Chen’s wonderful concert with a superb post-concert meal at Blue Water Café in Yaletown. Don’t worry. He tried the Coho salmon that we’re famous for here!

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Quaill’s Gate Chardonnay perfectly accompanied the seafood!

The next morning, we took Mr. Chen for a quick brunch at Edibles and a tour of Granville Island’s Public Market.  No visit to Vancouver is complete without a trip to this gorgeous location.

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A delicious brunch at Edible’s Canada!

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Time for a quick photo but no time for an Aquabus ride this time!

The work began early on Saturday for Mr. Chen as he led a masterclass of four very talented pianists at Tom Lee Music.  Thank you to Mr. Graham Blank, Vice-President of Tom Lee Canada, for your support of this event. The students learned a great deal from Mr. Chen and he was very impressed with their level of preparation.

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Han Chen and Tom Lee Music Vice-President, Mr. Graham Blank, with piano masterclass participants at Tom Lee Music downtown.

After a quick lunch break, Mr. Chen hosted a magnificent round-table conversation about Ravel’s Miroirs and music in the early twentieth century.   After this stimulating discussion, he gave a most effervescent performance of this impressionist masterwork.   Those of us in attendance will not soon forget this afternoon. It truly resembled the spirit of a Parisian salon.

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Salon performance of Miroirs by Ravel at Tom Lee Music Downtown.

It is no surprise that Vancouver is a major food tourism destination.   After the masterclass and lecture-recital, Mr. Chen was able to enjoy the first of many delightful Lunar New Year meals.

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Han Chen with Tom Lee Vice-President, Graham Blank after a Lunar New Year dinner celebration in downtown Vancouver.

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Han Chen, Jennifer West, and Graham Blank after a great DineOut Festival experience celebrating Lunar New Year.

On the morning of Sunday, Feb. 4, Mr. Chen had the good fortune of visiting Mount Seymour for some fun in the snow.  In what other city can you walk along the seawall and then go snowshoeing within the same hour? Incredible!  The mountain air can really stir up an appetite so Mr. Chen was able to experience dim sum in Richmond!

Later on Sunday, Mr. Chen was the guest teacher and artist at Ocean Park Studio in Crescent Beach, South Surrey.  We listened to three talented young pianists and were able to see a truly masterful teacher in action.  Mr. Chen related so well to these students and was able to focus in on key aspects of their playing that they could improve within the short period of time that they had together.

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Mrs. Helga Murray with the masterclass participants and pianist Han Chen.

After the masterclass, there was a short dinner break followed by one of the most beautiful house concerts we have ever witnessed.  Mr. Chen made an instant connection with the audience and his Naxos recording sold very quickly indeed!  The young pianists in the audience left nothing short of star-struck.

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Han Chen gave a breathtaking performance of Schubert’s late c minor sonata (D. 958) and Ravel’s Miroirs at Ocean Park Piano Studio.

And so our quick but extremely meaningful weekend with Han Chen came to a close.  As is all too common, good things must come to an end and far too quickly.  Over the weekend, we were all completely inspired by his artistry and how he related to the audience.  Mr. Chen was generous with his time and connected with many people that he met on his short trip here to Vancouver.  If you missed his performances this time around, do not fear! He will be back.

Thank you Han Chen for a magnificent weekend of music, Lunar New Year, and food!

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