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Press | PHYLLIS CHEN

Press

PHYLLIS CHEN PROVES TOY PIANO AIN’T NO CHILD’S PLAY–AUDREY MAGAZINE (APRIL 1, 2014)

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INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ENSEMBLE’S MOVIE MOOD–LA TIMES (JUN 17, 2013)

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PHYLLIS CHEN AND CARLA KIHLSTEDT PUT “PLAY” BACK INTO PLAYING CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL MUSIC–THE WASHINGTON POST (APR 12, 2013)

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THE SLUMBER THIEF–THE EDGE ( NOV 2, 2012)
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USING SKYSPACE TO DIFFERENT EFFECTS ON DIFFERENT PIANOS– ARTS SARASOTA (OCT 13, 2012)

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Miniature Keyboard super-sizes the instrument–Vancouver Sun (Jan 3, 2012)


Artist Playing With Toys– Wall Street Journal (Nov 29, 2011)


Toy Piano: Not Just for Tots–WNYC Soundcheck(November 15, 2011)


ICElab presents the toy-piano music of Phyllis Chen–Chicago Reader (Nov. 15, 2011)


Standard Fare Upended, to Reinvent and Explore–NY Times (Sept.4, 2011)


A Wine-Glass Fills In for a Period Instrument–NY Times (August 12, 2011)


The Economy on ICE–WQXR  (April 29, 2011)


The Toy that grew up–Sequenza21 (June, 2011)


Phyllis Chen’s Toy Piano Wonderland–Tom Tom Magazine (April 2011)


CD Review for Mesmers in Time Out Chicago (April 13, 2011)

“…a music world that simultaneously haunts and inspires.”


Phyllis Chen ‘rewonders’ Alice (March 21, 2011)


Interview with All Classical radio in Portland, Oregon

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Phyllis Chen’s Toy Piano Recital is Seriously Good

“…her captivating performance was animated by unbridled inventiveness, the kind of joyous creativity that playing with toys is meant to inspire.” –by James McQuillen from The Oregonian-June 5,2010


Chen’s toy piano concert a super-sized treat

“It’s amazing to think that anyone can deliver a high level of artistry on a toy piano, but Phyllis Chen did just that at the Doug Fir Lounge on Thursday evening. Whether her hands were blazing or slowly tapping on the tiny keyboard of her Schoenhut toy piano,  Chen transfixed the audience with her virtuosity.”–James Bash from the Oregon Music News–June 4, 2010


mechanics_thalia01Skillet and Egg, but Not the Kitchen Sink

The New York Times –  January 23, 2009
by Allan Kozinn
Young musicians are under enormous pressure to program inventively these days, and many do. But Phyllis Chen’s piano recital on Thursday evening at the Thalia Theater at Symphony Space raised the bar for delightful quirkiness matched with interpretive sensitivity. (read the full review at the New York Times)


CD Review: The New Music BoxSounds Heard (February 2010)

 


LA Times- January 2010

“Chen’s toy piano playing, in particular, proved a dazzling delight.”

“She is a bold pianist with an excellent sense of color.”


Chicago Reader – February 2009
by Peter Margasak

New York-based pianist Phyllis Chen can hold her own playing the classical repertoire on a conventional instrument, but over the past decade she’s become one of the world’s leading proponents of the toy piano. Margaret Leng Tan precedes her as a virtuoso on it, but I know of no one doing as much to establish its legitimacy now. The tracks I’ve heard from a forthcoming CD of Chen’s prove that the instrument’s principal limitation is that so few people treat it as respectfully as she does. In a 2005 Karlheinz Essl composition called “Kalimba,” which combines live performance with prerecorded toy piano played through a loudspeaker inside the instrument, it attains an otherworldly percussive resonance; in her own “The Memoirist” it’s dignified enough that not even the kitschier elements (Chen playing a music box and frying an egg) can make it sound goofy. Recently she founded the Uncaged Toy Piano Composition Competition to encourage new works (deadline for the second contest is in June), and her program for this concert includes a performance of the first winner, Georg Hajdu’s “Tsunami,” and pieces by Nathan Davis, Andrian Pertout, and John Cage.


Plaything for the serious player

Los Angeles Times – November 9, 2008
by Rick Schultz

Some find it simply grand. Phyllis Chen will perform pieces for the instrument, including John Cage’s ‘Suite for Toy Piano,’ in Culver City… when Chen brings one of her toy pianos for three recitals next Sunday as part of the Da Camera Society’s Chamber Music in Historic Sites concert series. (read the full article at the Los Angeles Times)


The Score and the Story, Inseparablecoraliners_tophats

New York Times – June 7, 2009

THE score of the Off Broadway musical “Coraline” is full of unusual sounds. Musical notes are joined by scrapes and scratches and thuds, and on first listen it sounds as if the composer and lyricist, Stephin Merritt, leader of the indie band the Magnetic Fields, has written his music for an array of unusual instruments. In reality, though, his score is bare bones. Not only is it performed by a single musician (with assistance from the cast), but it’s also composed almost entirely for pianos…. THE score of the Off Broadway musical “Coraline” is full of unusual sounds. Musical notes are joined by scrapes and scratches and thuds, and on first listen it sounds as if the composer and lyricist, Stephin Merritt, leader of the indie band the Magnetic Fields, has written his music for an array of unusual instruments. In reality, though, his score is bare bones. Not only is it performed by a single musician (with assistance from the cast), but it’s also composed almost entirely for pianos.”


Financial Times -June 2, 2009

“Phyllis Chen, the show’s sole instrumentalist…achieves dazzling effects with pianos both standard-sized and shrunken.”