A remarkable evening unfolded at the iconic Carnegie Hall as the prodigious young pianist, Kevin Chen, took the stage to deliver a captivating performance. The 18-year-old virtuoso, hailed as one of the world’s most promising pianists, opened the evening with a soul-stirring rendition of “HaTikvah,” Israel’s national anthem. His performance at Carnegie Hall marked yet another milestone in Chen’s illustrious career.
Kevin Chen’s rise to prominence has been nothing short of extraordinary. Earlier this year, he clinched the first prize at the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv, further solidifying his status as an exceptional talent in the classical music realm. His previous accolades include winning first prizes at the Concours de Genève, the Franz Liszt International Piano Competition in Budapest, Hungary, and the Hilton Head International Piano Competition. Chen’s outstanding talent has garnered him international recognition and admiration.
For his Carnegie Hall concert, Chen’s repertoire demonstrated his remarkable versatility and prowess. The evening’s program featured Mendelssohn’s Prelude and Fugue in B-flat Major, Op. 35, No. 6, Twelve Etudes by Frederic Chopin, Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 7, Op. 64, “White Mass,” and Liszt’s Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este and Réminiscences de Norma. His exquisite interpretation of these compositions showcased his deep connection to the music and his technical virtuosity.
Chen’s musical journey extends beyond piano performance. Not only has he had the privilege of performing with renowned orchestras like the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and the Israel Camerata, but he has also demonstrated his talents as a composer. His achievements and contributions to the world of classical music have earned him numerous awards and accolades.
The choice to open the concert with “HaTikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, held special significance. The anthem, with lyrics adapted from Naphtali Herz Imber’s poem “Tikvateynu,” represents the enduring hope of the Jewish people for a homeland. Its rendition at Carnegie Hall is a testament to the power of music to bridge cultures and express profound emotions.
The Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master Competition, which originated in 1973, has a rich history of attracting exceptional talent. Its namesake, the legendary pianist Arthur Rubinstein, attended the first two competitions, and over the years, it has propelled numerous international stars to stardom.
The lyrics of “HaTikvah,” written in 1877, have a poignant history that transcends borders and speaks to the resilience of the human spirit. In the darkest hours of history, such as at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen, the anthem’s melody served as a symbol of hope, unity, and resistance.
Watch: Kevin Chen opens his concert at @carnegiehall with Hatikva, Israel’s anthem, paying tribute to the Israeli victims murdered and those who are being held hostage by Hamas.
Thank you. pic.twitter.com/kQzfagaqK0
— Israel ישראל 🇮🇱 (@Israel) October 20, 2023
According to The Dailywire, The English lyrics to “HaTikvah” are:
As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope – will not be lost: To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Here are more of Kevin Chen’s performances during the Rubenstein competition: