MSIPC winner makes her debut in New York concert hall

Jie Chen at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 4.

Darren Gibbs

Jie Chen at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 4.

Darren Gibbs

Most students have heard the music coming from Webster Hall auditorium and Taylor Performing Arts Center every other spring. What they may not know is the music is played by young and professional pianists from around the world.

The Missouri Southern International Piano Competition is held biennially on campus. The Competition was first held by Southern in 1987 to bring the community together by putting on a professional musical event that would encourage and promote appreciation of fine arts music to the campus, region and talented pianists from all over the world.

“MSIPC is about bringing wonderful cultural activities to southwest Missouri,” said Vivian León, director of the MSIPC. “It gives school children an opportunity to witness what is excellent and what it takes to be excellent, and I think this event is very important to our area.”

The winners of the competitions are swept away to New York where they collect their reward – a Carnegie Hall debut.

“People are in awe of that place, simply because it represents the best performances in the world,” León said. “If you play in Carnegie, you are outstanding and ready for the world. The Carnegie Hall debut is a milestone for any musician’s career.”

Carnegie allows for exposure because music teachers from around the world come to Carnegie to hear the musicians perform.

MSIPC, judged by internationally renowned pianists, has grown during its tenure, and has gained attention on the national and international levels.

The 2004 winner, Jie Chen, has been featured in papers in many countries.

“Jie is talented, well trained and works very hard,” León said. “She was so outstanding in the competition in April that the judges unanimously voted not to have a second prize just to set her apart from the rest of the field.”

The MSIPC has been a non-profit organization since 1993, and is entirely funded through corporate donations and local business donations.

León said she is proud of what the competition has become. She said it has been worth the work.

“We have come a long way since the competition’s inception,” León said. “We are not where people would consider a cultural center, and I think we have gained a tremendous reputation. Just imagine that 30 or 40 countries apply each year just to come to Missouri Southern and play in this competition. This speaks volumes for not only the University, but also southwest Missouri.”