There are child prodigies, and then there’s Calgary’s Kevin Chen.
At age five he began music studies; at six he was the youngest in Canada to pass the Grade 9 Royal Conservatory of Music exams; and this summer, at age seven, he passed his Grade 10 exams – with first-class honours.
In spring, he performed an 80-minute debut recital featuring works by Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and Debussy and achieved national recognition after his performance at the Calgary Kiwanis Music Festival.
In October, Chen will make his first concert appearance as a guest soloist with the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra (AYO) as they present The Prodigy on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at the South Abbotsford Church, 32424 Hungtingdon Rd.
Calvin Dyck, director of the AYO, met Chen’s teacher, Colleen Athparia, while adjudicating a music competition in Winnipeg.
“Colleen told me she was having a challenge staying ahead of her youngest student,” said Dyck.
Chen will be performing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 17 and because he is not very big, under 40 pounds, organizers are bringing in a piano from Vancouver that has a very light touch.
Chen is described as exceedingly shy, yet playful. Dyck describes him as an artistic genius.
“Once every century somebody comes along who is so gifted they are like a Mozart. They assimilate music so quickly like it’s already a part of them, as natural as breathing. Whereas most normal people take weeks and months to learn a piece and understand the intricacies, for Kevin it is obvious.”
Along with Chen, the concert includes the AYO performing Mozart’s Symphony No. 17 and Handel’s Passacaglia. Joel Stobbe is bringing the Langley Community Music School Cello Ensemble to perform Death of an Angel, a high-energy piece written by Astor Piazzola
Tickets are available at King’s Music (2669 Langdon St.) or House of James (2743 Emerson St.).