Senior Recitals: Bobby Chen

Bobby Chen ’10, readily dubbed as “Yo-Yo Chen,” performed his Senior Recital last Sunday to finish off his music career at Phillips Academy. Chen began the performance with “Le Grande Tango” by Astor Piazzolla, accompanied by pianist Sayuri Miyamoto. The tango was undoubtedly a difficult piece, filled with swingy scales and complex harmonies. Nevertheless, Chen performed with proficiency and profound understanding of the music. Fellow cellist Rainer Crosett ’10 said, “I completely sympathize with how difficult [“Le Grande Tango]” is. Bobby played really, really well. He had all the notes down, and his dynamics really showed that he understood the piece. He also had an amazing stage presence.” Chen then performed “Adagio and Allegro in A flat Major, Op.70” by Robert Schumann. Chen handled the subtleties of the “Adagio” with an almost perfect control of the sound of his instrument. His performance clearly showed his care for dynamics. The “Allegro” presented Chen with fast and difficult passages, which showcased his technical prowess on the cello. After intermission, Chen performed “Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op. 114” by Johannes Brahms with his sister, Amy Chen ’07, playing the clarinet. Clarinetist Jack You ’10 said, “I’m playing the same trio in chamber music right now, and hearing both Amy and Bobby play really helped me learn the piece…The trio is very challenging musically. It also has a few scales that are really difficult to get perfectly…Amy and Bobby, I think, nailed it.” Chen closed the performance with “Elfentanz (Dance of the Elves)” by David Popper. Unbelievably fast and virtuosic, “Elfentanz” is arguably one of the most difficult pieces in the cello repertoire. “It was really brave of [Bobby] to finish the recital with ‘Elfentanz.’ I mean, after an hour or more of playing, it’s simply impossible to have any stamina left to play it,” said Crosett. Though Chen’s rendition of “Elfentanz” did contain a few mistakes, the audience seemed to understand that the piece was practically impossible. The piece was followed by an immediate standing ovation. Chen will be continuing his education at Harvard University next year. He said, “I’m going to keep playing music no matter what I end up doing. Hopefully in college I’ll keep studying with a teacher, and keep playing at Harvard. I’m not really sure what’s going to go on from there, but it’s definitely going to be a major part of what I’m going to be doing there.” He added, “I would say, pour everything you’ve got to whatever you want to do, especially in music. If you don’t you might regret it. Just in the past years, I’ve been to Michigan, Washington, Miami, to places you’d never be able to go…to meet people that are inspiring, people with the same artistic talents and goals.” About his senior recital, he said, “It’s not a competition or anything, but for me, I just wanted to dedicate everything I had to it, and whatever happened…It wasn’t my best, but it was nice to know that I gave PA my all, and whatever happens after, I’m happy with that. I would just say, to anyone that considers doing anything, give it everything you’ve got. If you do, you’ll see good things happen.” Chen’s achievements in the music realm are impressive—he has performed all over the world, won numerous competitions and has been named Presidential Scholar in the Arts this year.