Dr. Yi-Yang Chen shot onto the international stage with back-to-back victories in the 2018 Sussex International Piano Competition, 2017 Washington International Competition, and the Warning International Piano Competition. The Worthing Herald music critic Richard Amey praised his recent performance’s "flair for the unusual and his technical and artistic capacity to deliver," as well as his "musical and emotional intelligence, dexterity and virtuosity," listening to Chen as soloist in Saint-Saëns’ Piano Concerto No. 5, "Egyptian," with the Worthing Symphony Orchestra. His vibrant playing at the Pacific International Piano Competition (Canada) was recognized by the judges, who selected him for the first prize ("…Yi-Yang showed an impressive breadth of emotional investment and natural affinity for the music he played. The informed individuality and command of his performance was immediately compelling to the judges. We feel this young man has a fine future as an artist. He seems to ‘own’ the piano as he plays, and this makes his performance extremely powerful"—Dr. Robin McCabe).
Yi-Yang Chen is an assistant professor of piano at the University of Kansas and the Artist Director of the Orbifold Music Festival in California. Born in Taipei, Taiwan, Chen has been playing the piano since the age of 8. Yi-Yang completed his Doctor of Musical Arts and Bachelor of Music at the Eastman School of Music with Douglas Humpherys, and his master’s degree at The Juilliard School with Robert McDonald and Jerome Lowenthal. He also has solo/chamber masterclasses with Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, Daniel Pollack, Joseph Kalichstein, Glenn Dicterow, Thomas Sauer, and with members from the Cleveland, Shanghai, Borromeo, Brentano, Ying, and Guarneri String Quartets.
Yi-Yang has captivated audiences worldwide with his flamboyant playing. He has performed on five continents in acclaimed venues, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center in New York, Melbourne Recital Centre, National Concert Hall in Taipei, Banff Music Centre in Canada, ZK Matthews Great Hall in South Africa, and the Assembly Hall in Worthing, UK, with such orchestras as the Worthing Symphony Orchestra, Brevard Music Center Orchestra, Avanti Orchestra, Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra, National Chinese Orchestra, and the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. He has appeared at the Perlman Music Festival, Taos School of Music Summer Chamber Music Festival, Banff Music Centre, Music Academy of the West, Four Seasons Winter Workshop, and Brevard Music Center.
A wealth of experience enables Chen to be an outstanding teacher and performer. As the winner of the 2012 MTNA National Young Artist Piano Competition, Chen was given a Steinway piano and two concerts in Miami sponsored by the Chopin Foundation (USA) as his prize. In a review of his 2017 solo recital at Carnegie Weill Hall, New York Concert Review wrote, "He negotiated this difficult work with what appeared to be the greatest of ease. The passagework was sparkling, and the energy never flagging. Mr. Chen held the line and momentum throughout, challenges which many players struggle with in this work […]. It was a powerhouse performance. His bold, take-no- holds approach was all that one hopes for in this work. It is a high-risk proposition that demands a large technique, and Mr. Chen delivered. I’ve heard many performances of this sonata, and Mr. Chen’s ranks among the best." Chen also received top prizes at the Hilton Head International Piano Competition, American Prize (Professional Division), UNISA International Piano Competition (South Africa), Kerikeri International Piano Competition (New Zealand), Seattle International Piano competition, Thailand International Piano Competition, San Jose International Piano Competition, Roberto Melini International Piano Competition (Italy), Five Towns Piano Competition, Schubert Club Competition, Thousand Islands International Piano Competition, and Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford.
Yi-Yang Chen is a member of the Music Teachers National Association, College Music Society, and Mu Phi Epsilon. He enjoys swimming, biking, traveling, and composing. Yi-Yang is currently working on a recording project with Champs Hill label (UK); the release is scheduled for 2025. Before joining KU (University of Kansas), Yi-Yang has served on the faculty at East Tennessee State University.
Internationally acclaimed pianist Althea Waites has concertized extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and South Africa as a soloist, chamber musician and collaborative artist. In addition to performances on concert stages around the world, she has also participated in numerous festivals as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and ensemble coach, including Aspen, Tanglewood, the Yale Summer Festival at Norfolk, the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the Idyllwild Arts festival in Southern California and the National Arts Festival at Makhanda on the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
Praised by the Los Angeles Times for "superb technique and profound musicality," Ms. Waites has a long and distinguished history of championing new music by American composers and has received several honors and commendations for her work. She has also appeared as guest soloist for National Public Radio’s Performance Today, KQED/San Francisco, KCET/Los Angeles, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Geneva Conservatory of Music in Switzerland, Merkin Hall in New York City, concerts for the UC San Diego World Music program in Indonesia, Phillips Gallery in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, to name a few. She has been chosen as the 2023/24 Leonard Stein Resident Artist for PianoSpheres, a California-based organization that supports and promotes the performance of new music specifically written for the piano.
Her recording credits include Black Diamonds, a landmark CD of music by African-American composers as well as the premiere recording of Florence Price’s 1932 Sonata in E Minor, Along the Western Shore, and Celebration, a 2012 recording featuring new music by American composers. This CD also includes works which have been written for and dedicated to Ms. Waites in celebration of 60 years as a concert artist and teacher.
Ms. Waites holds degrees from Xavier University of Louisiana and the Master of Music degree in Piano from the Yale School of Music where she studied with Donald Currier. Previous teachers and mentors include Alice Shapiro, a protégé of Rosina Lhevinne, Russell Sherman and Sister Mary Elise Sisson.
She is in demand for masterclasses, lectures, workshops, recitals and residencies at colleges and arts institutions throughout the United States, and her commitment to community service is evident through her work with many outreach programs in retirement homes, hospitals, churches, community centers and any place where music can be used as a tool for peace and the elimination of racial and political division.
Althea Waites is a Yamaha artist and her recordings are now incorporated on her new label, Kuumba Music.
Daniel Shapiro has developed widespread recognition as a leading interpreter of Schubert, Beethoven, Mozart, Schumann, and Brahms; and as a teacher and coach at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he has taught for the past twenty-six years. He has given critically acclaimed performances across the United States, in Brazil, Europe, Korea, and China. Recently he performed his third complete cycle of the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas; videos of the performances can be found on YouTube. His DVDs of all of Schubert’s major piano sonatas and his CD of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations have received enthusiastic reviews.
During his tenure at CIM, he has become known as an inspiring teacher who helps students achieve profound understanding and develop vivid interpretations of the great masterworks. His students have won important competitions and obtained teaching posts at prestigious universities and schools of music.
As a chamber musician, Shapiro has had the great fortune of collaborating with some of the world’s leading musicians, including Jaime Laredo, Shmuel Ashkenasi, Joseph Silverstein, Cho-Liang Lin, Sergiu Schwartz and Franklin Cohen. He has performed regularly with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony and the Cleveland Orchestra. He has released chamber music CDs on the Harmonia Mundi and ASV labels. His Beethoven sonata collaborations with violinist Jaime Laredo can also be found on YouTube.
His musicianship has been enhanced and deepened by extensive collaboration with singers: listening to and working with them has been a source of tremendous inspiration. He studied art song with Gwendolyn Koldofsky and opera with Natalie Limonick, and was an opera and art song coach at UCLA.
His musical scope also includes conducting: he has worked with Daniel Lewis, Victor Yampolsky, Fritz Zweig, and Gustav Meier. He made his conducting debut at sixteen at Tanglewood, and he conducted Mozart’s Don Giovanni with the Akron Lyric Opera.
A native of southern California, Shapiro began the study of piano at the age of six. His teachers have included Leon Fleisher, John Perry, Russell Sherman, Joanna Graudan, and Reginald Stewart. He studied at the University of Southern California and at the Peabody Conservatory, where he received his doctorate.