"The tracks I’ve heard from a forthcoming CD of Chen’s prove that the instrument’s principal limitation is that so few people treat it as respectfully as she does."
--Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader , February 2009
UnCaged Toy Piano features the toy pianist virtuoso, Phyllis Chen, who was recently praised by the New York Times for her "delightful quirkiness matched with interpretive sensitivity." Her debut CD features the first piece ever written for toy piano, "Suite for Toy Piano" by John Cage as well as other works by prominent 20th and 21st century composer who have specifically written for toy pianos.
Phyllis Chen’s artistic pursuits take her in numerous directions as a toy pianist, pianist, composer and performance artist, leading to her selection as a New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2007 Concert Artist Guild International Competition. Since discovering the toy piano, Phyllis has become a trailblazer in performing original multimedia compositions using toy pianos, electronics and video. n encouraging composers to write new works using the toy piano as a serious instrument.
In 2005, Phyllis was also invited to perform a selection of toy piano and electronic pieces, including her own piece, at the Extensible Toy Piano Festival in Worcester, MA. A strong interest in interdisciplinary works led her to collaborations with video artist Rob Dietz with whom she created multimedia works such as The Memoirist, Pearlessence, and Chroma.
Lauded for playing Beethoven 1st Concerto “with amazing grace, with enviable clarity, and with finger work of both strength and elasticity” (The Herald Times, IN), Ms. Chen’s traditional piano credits include honors at the International Bartok/Kabalevsky Piano and the Coleman Chamber Music Competition. Her victory at the Marjorie Barnett Competition of Chicago included a special Bach Prize for her performance of the Goldberg Variations, and as a result, Phyllis was invited to perform at Chicago Symphony Center’s Buntrock Hall. She also performed on the Dame Myra Hess Series at the Chicago Cultural Center, aired live on WFMT Public Radio.
Phyllis is a member of ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), a Chicago and New York-based collective dedicated to the performance and promotion of new works. She has traveled to the west coast, England, Russia and Mexico with the ensemble.
Phyllis attended Oberlin Conservatory as a recipient of the Dean’s Talent Award Scholarship and received a Masters Degree from Northwestern University as an Eckstein Merit Scholar. She is currently pursuing her DMA in piano performance at Indiana University under the tutelage of André Watts. Phyllis currently resides in Astoria, New York.