"...her always-wonderful singing phrasing and rhythmic elán make every bar shine with a crystal-clear brightness."– Marius Dawn, Pianist, March 2009
Widely-acclaimed as one of the most gifted and thoughtful pianists to emerge from China in recent years, Sa Chen continues to enchant audiences around the globe. Recent orchestral engagements include her debuts with the Los Angeles Philharmonic (at the Hollywood Bowl), the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (both with Edo de Waart), the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse (with Tugan Sokhiev) and the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y Léon (with Vasily Petrenko). She also made return appearances with the orchestras in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Guangzhou; and appeared in recital in Istanbul, Hannover, Shenzhen, Beijing, Atlanta, Luzern and Lisbon. Sa Chen records exclusively for Pentatone. Her first disc (the Chopin Concertos with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Lawrence Foster), was described as "matching poetry with virtuosity" (Tim Parry, BBC Music Magazine), and the second, a recital disc of Mussorgsky and Rachmaninov, was released in July. The 2009/10 season includes her debut with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (under Manfred Honeck), the world premiere of the piano version of the Butterfly Lovers Concerto (with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra) and recital performances in Milan, Munich and Venice as well as throughout China.
Sa Chen was born in Chongqing. She began her studies at the Sichaun Conservatory of Music and went on to study at the Shenzhen School of Arts (with Dan Zhaoyi), the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (with Joan Havill) and at the Hochschule fu¨r Musik und Theater in Hannover (with Arie Vardi). She first came to attention outside China in 1996 when she took fourth prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition (where she was the youngest competitor), playing with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. She has since gone on to take Fourth Prize and the Best Polonaise Performance Award at the Chopin International Competition and the Crystal Award at the Van Cliburn Competition, making her the first pianist to be a laureate of all three competitions.
As a soloist, Sa Chen has worked with many celebrated conductors including Semyon Bychkov, Leonard Slatkin, James Conlon, Ilan Volkov and Yu Long. She has performed with, among others, the WDR, Bern, Singapore, New Zealand and Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestras; the Warsaw, Israel, and Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestras; and Camerata Salzburg and the Takács Quartet. In 2006 she toured in the USA with the China National Symphony Orchestra to widespread acclaim. In recital she has appeared in many of the world's most prestigious venues. In the UK she has performed at the Wigmore Hall, Barbican Centre, Southbank Centre and Cadogan Hall. Abroad, recitals include the Tonhalle in Zürich, Sala Verdi in Milan, Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw, the Sydney Opera House, Symphony Hall in Boston and Washington's Kennedy Center. Her festival performances include Les Musiques, Duszniki and Beijing Festivals and she has also appeared in Basel, Berlin, Copenhagen, Linz and Vancouver. She tours regularly in Japan and was selected for the "100 Great Pianists of the 20th Century" series in Tokyo. Her chamber music partners include Gidon Kremer, Sarah Chang and Nicolaj Znaider and she has appeared with them at the Kronberg and Lockenhaus Festivals as well as on tour.
Sa Chen appeared in The Heart of Music and Encore - film documentaries about the 2005 Cliburn Competition which aired on PBS stations across the USA. Gramophone Magazine chose her as the featured artist for the launch of its Chinese edition and a documentary about her was produced by RTHK and telecast on the Hong Kong satellite TV network. Her debut disc, Chopin Impression, was released in 2003 on JVC, followed by her Cliburn Competition recording on Harmonia Mundi. She now records exclusively for Pentatone.