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Abilene Philharmonic September 21 Concert
Abilene Philharmonic Association

September, 2013

Sean Chen, the first American to make the finals of the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition since 1997, opens the 63rd season of the Abilene Philharmonic on Saturday, September 21. Mr. Chen plays Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, music known to many from the 1996 movie Shine. The concert also includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica.”  The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Abilene Civic Center’s auditorium, and Concert Conversations with Maestro Itkin begins at 6:45 p.m. Tickets prices range from $10-$35.


The concert sponsors for the evening are Lawrence Hall Abilene and Frank, Rebecca and Bobby Johnson.


Born in Florida and raised in Southern California, guest artist Sean Chen is the Crystal Winner from the 2013 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.  At 24 years of age, Sean already has an impressive resume – schooled at Julliard; second-prize winner at the 2011 Seoul International Music Competition; and Los Angeles Music Center’s Spotlight Award.


At the press conference following the awards ceremony, Sean said: “If you had asked me when I was a freshman at Juilliard if I ever would have medaled in the Cliburn I would have laughed and left…  This experience [competing in the Van Cliburn Competition] has been really awesome but kind of the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life.  It's just the nature of the beast. I would be happy to not have to go through it again."


Performance Today host Fred Child said that in his final round performance Chen brought every bit of the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 to life, commenting that "it was just above a whisper and gently moving at times, elsewhere a thrilling, over-the-top Romantic romp, played with glee and zeal and panache."


The Van Cliburn Competition began in 1962, created by Fort Worth area teachers in honor of Van Cliburn, who had won the first International Tchaikovsky Competition four years prior in Moscow at the height of the Cold War.  Held every four years, winners and runners-up receive substantial cash prizes, plus concert tours at world-famous venues. 


Abilene Philharmonic season tickets are on sale now and first time buyers receive 50% off. Tickets may be purchased by calling (325) 677-6710 or (800) 460-0610, or visit the Philharmonic’s office located at 401 Cypress Street, Suite 520.  Single tickets can also be purchased online  Season sponsors are the Abilene Philharmonic Guild, Abilene Scene, Townsquare Media, Sleep Inn, Abilene Cultural Affairs Council, Abilene Regional Airport, KACU, and SignTEX.


In its 63rd year, the Abilene Philharmonic is one of Abilene’s most established performing arts organizations. Led by Music Director and Conductor David Itkin, the Philharmonic is the only professional orchestra within 80 miles of Abilene and draws audiences from more than 50 Texas cities. Information concerning the Abilene Philharmonic’s 2013-14 Season and donor opportunities may be found by visiting The Mission of the Abilene Philharmonic is to entertain, educate and inspire current and potential audiences through live symphonic music and community engagement.


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