A pair of pint-sized siblings took the big stage recently when they played the piano at Carnegie Hall to an audience of more than 500 people. Jason Zuyi Chen, and his sister, Julie were invited to play at the prestigious venue after each took second place in their age divisions in the Little Mozart International Piano Competition in May. The children were selected from among 1,000 who competed in the contest.
Indeed an honor for any budding pianist, the event was particularly impressive as Jason has only been playing piano for six months and he had turned five years old just weeks before the performance – earning him the distinction of being one of the youngest to ever perform at Carnegie Hall. Julie, 8, who has been playing piano for two years, has also won high awards, being named Michigan champion in the American Guild of Music competition before the family moved to Orange last year.
Jason is unfazed by the attention his piano playing talent brings. When asked if he loves playing the piano he shrugged and thought for a moment before responding, “not really”. He later jumped up and began a lively demonstration of the new kicks and karate chops he learned in his kung fu class.
Julie, who also figure skates, takes ballet lessons and plays soccer, is more enthusiastic about the activity. “I like piano best,” she said. Although the Racebrook School third grader admitted she was “a little nervous” about performing at Carnegie Hall, the children’s piano teacher, Felicia Zhang, said you’d never know it. “Both had very successful performances and were very calm playing on such a big stage,” she said. “Jason is exceptional, he is a fast learner and loves a challenge. Julie is also an excellent student. She is so kind and sweet and learns her music from the heart. I think you will be hearing more about each of them in the future.”
The pair are the children of Dr. Shaowei Chen, who is a dentist in town and Dr. Jiedeng Chen, an OB/GYN at Yale New Haven Hospital.