VC Talks: an interview with Celine Chen, GLORY Int'l Music Competition prize winner


  • 1st Prize, GLORY Int'l Baroque Music Competition 2018
  • 1st Prize, GLORY Int'l Classical Music Competition 2018
  • 1st Prize, GLORY Int'l Modern & Contemporary Classical Music Competition 2018

Celine Chen, 14, first touched a piano at age 4 and is currently studying with Nobuyo Nishizaka. Celine has been a winner in numerous piano competitions, including the Grand Prize award from Satori Young Piano Competition, the James Ramos International Competition, the CAPMT Sonatina Competition, the CAPMT Romantic Competition, the MTAC Scholarship Competition, the Southwestern Young Music Festival and also the International Music Talent American Protege Competition, which allowed her to perform at Carnegie Hall in the winter of 2017. Celine is an active member of the Los Angeles Junior Chamber Music, and has received a scholarship to the Montecito International Music Festival, in which she had an opportunity to have a masterclass with Dr. Thomas Lymenstull. She also has had masterclasses with Petr Jiříkovský and Avedis Kouyoumdjian on her honor tour with JCM to various cities in Europe in the summer of 2018. In addition to her passion for music, Celine is also a principal flutist in her school, a member of CSUN Philharmonic Orchestra and the California All State Honor Band. Aside from music, Celine enjoys art and reading books. Celine plans to pursue music, both as a pianist and flutist, in the future.

What year were you born?

Do you come from a musical family?
My mother played the piano for a short time, but my dad’s side of the family does not have any musical background.

What was your earliest musical experience?
I was 5 years old when I had my first piano recital.

Why did you choose to play the piano?
My grandma had a piano at her house, and one time, my mom played me a short piece. Throughout the piece, I loved the twinkling, bright sounds of the upper register, and that was when I set my mind to playing the piano.

Who are your favorite composers and why?
My favorite composers are Beethoven and Schumann. Their pieces hold many emotions, and I love to portray that when I play.

Who are your musical idols?
Yuja Wang, Evgeny Kissin, and Mitsuko Uchida.

What is a perfect performer?
A perfect performer is one who enjoys the time given on stage. A perfect performer is also someone who enjoys performing the piece and tries their hardest to show the story behind it to the audience.

What music are you mostly enjoying at the moment?
Right now, I’m enjoying the Liszt Trancendental Etude No. 12.

What are the main influences in your music-making?
My teacher, hearing professionals play, and reading about the composer and the piece.

When you are performing, what are your thoughts?
I think about if the composer is happy with the way I played his/her piece. I also think about different colors to help set the mood.

Where do you study music and what are your future educational plans?
I study under Nobuyo Nishizaka, and I do play on majoring in music.

What are your reasons to participate in music competitions?
For me, it’s an oppurtinity to show people how I play, and I also love to listen to how other contestants play.

What is your opinion about GLORY International Music Competition?
It is a very prestigious competition that I am honored to have received 1st place.

When it is not music, what interests you? What is your favorite pastime?
Drawing, or painting is my favorite pastime.

What book are you reading now?
“To Kill A Mockingbird”

What are the happiest moments in your life?
The happiest moments in my life are probably when people come up to me, and tell me how they enjoyed my playing. That makes me very happy, not because it shows that I played well, but because I played well, the audience enjoyed it.

What things do you not like to do?
I do not like to go camping, and I also do not like having nothing to do.

What inspires you and what makes you sad?
Other fellow musicians and prodigies inspire me, and knowing that they are my age, or younger, and are able to perform all over the world. What makes me sad is how many people would love to play a musical instrument, but cannot because of lack of money, or disabilities.

What are your strengths?
I work hard, and I learn things very quickly.

What is your life motto?
Opportunities will come, as long as you work hard.

What is most important in life?
Opinions. Opinions, no matter good or bad, have made our world into what it is today.

What is more important: talent or hard work?
Hard work.

If today was the last day on earth, what would you do?
I would practice all day long.

Why does the universe exist?
The universe exists because God believed that mankind is responsible and strong enough to develop the universe into what it is today.

Thank you very much for talking to us.

In this series of interviews, we explore how some of the most talented and prize winning young classical musicians became interested in music, who are their musical idols, what they are working on at present, and what they strive to achieve in the future.