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Royal Conservatory Alumnus Wins Prestigious International Piano Competition

Royal Conservatory Alumnus Wins Prestigious International Piano Competition

Published on November 4, 2022

Kevin Chen, ARCT '17, is also the first Canadian pianist to win the Concours de Genève International Music Competition

Kevin Chen (ARCT ’17, piano), is the First Prize winner of the 76th Concours de Genève piano competition

Kevin Chen (ARCT ’17, piano), has been awarded First Prize in the 76th Concours de Genève piano competition. He is the first Canadian pianist to win this competition, founded in 1939, and only the second Canadian laureate (Aiyun Huang won for percussion in 2002). Pianists who have previously won this acclaimed competition include Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, Friedrich Gulda, and Martha Argerich.

Mr. Chen earned his ARCT in Piano Performance from The Royal Conservatory and, at that time, was the youngest student (at eight years of age) to receive First Class Honors with Distinction in his ARCT Performer's Exam. The ARCT (Associate of The Royal Conservatory) diploma is amongst the highest academic credentials awarded through the RCM Certificate Program.

The competition's prestigious international jury included Janina Fialkowska, Chair (Canada), Florent Boffard (France), Till Fellner (Austria), and Momo Kodama (Japan), among others. In addition to winning first prize, Mr. Chen also won the Young Audience Prize, the Rose-Marie Huguenin Prize, the Fondation Etrillard Prize, the Concerts De Jussy Prize, the Société Des Arts Prize, and the Steinway Prizewinner Concerts Prize.

Of the 182 applicants, 40 pianists from 14 countries were chosen for the competition. Nine were selected for the semi-finals and four competed in the finals including Sergey Belyavsky (Russia), Kaoruko Igarashi (Japan), Zijian Wei (China) and Kevin Chen (Canada), who, at 17 years of age, was the youngest finalist in the competition.

Mr. Chen lives in Calgary, Alberta, where he studies with Marilyn Engle of the University of Calgary (and also an RCM Certificate Program teacher). In the last three years, he has won four international competitions including the 2021 Franz Liszt International Piano Competition. Additionally, he is an avid composer, with nearly 100 works to his credit, including symphonies and a piano concerto.

Watch Mr. Chen's performance of Chopin’s Concerto n°1 in E minor in the Finals of the 76th Concours de Genève piano competition.