MSIPC winner makes return

Vivian León - Director of MSIPC

Vivian León – Director of MSIPC

After her debut at Carnegie Hall and concert tours in China and the United States, Jie Chen will make her return to Missouri Southern.

Chen, the grand prize winner of the 2004 Missouri Southern International Piano Competition, will give a concert March 11 on Southern’s Campus.

Vivian León, director of MSIPC, said Chen is “phenomenal.”

“This girl was the winner of our competition when she was 18,” León said. “Everybody in her division was older than her. She was the youngest one, and she won the competition. That tells you something right there.”

Suzanne Charron, owner of Suzanne’s Natural Food’s in Joplin, hosted Chen in 2004 and will host her again next week.

“She’s wonderful,” Charron said. “She has a great personality. She’s really delightful to have around.”

Charron said Chen takes what she does seriously.

During 2004’s MSIPC, the judges unanimously decided not to award a second place in the competition to set Chen apart from the rest of the field.

“Since then she’s done a great deal of performing and she’s traveled a lot,” León said. “So we decided to bring her back. First of all, many people here would like to hear her play again, and second of all we wanted her to present her to different groups, like schoolchildren.”

She said she thinks it is important for children to experience firsthand talent such as Chen’s.

“I think our children need to see excellence up close and see somebody that is not that much older than they are that can achieve this kind of level of doing something so terrifically well,” León said. “If the kids don’t see it and actually experience it and talk to this person and learn from this person, they will not know ‘Hey if I work hard, I can be that good too.'”

Chen will finish her U.S. tour Wednesday in Buffalo, then fly to Joplin.

On Thursday, Chen will perform at Joplin High School.

And on March 11, she will perform in Webster Hall auditorium. Chen’s “Return from Carnegie” concert will be at 7:30 p.m.

Both concerts will be for area schools.

Chen performed to a full Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall in October 2004. The hall holds about 270 people.

León said about 40 people paid their own way from the Joplin area to New York City in October just to see Chen perform.

“I think we’ll have a very good house,” León said.

“We expect a good crowd.”

Tickets for the concert are $10 for general admission and $5 for seniors and students.

To purchase tickets, or for more information, call 625-9755.

“Hopefully they will have an opportunity to really enjoy a terrific concert,” León said.