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Sa Chen (simplified Chinese: 陈萨; traditional Chinese: 陳薩; pinyin: Chén Sà) (born 1979 in Chongqing, China) is a Chinese pianist. She won first prize in the 1994 China International Piano Competition, fourth place in the 2000 International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition, a prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition and was third in the 2005 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.
Born in China, Sa grew up in an artistic family. Her mother is a ballet dancer and her father was a French horn player who died of cancer when Sa was young. She received her first violin lesson from her father at the age of 6 and started her piano lessons with Prof. Dan Zhaoyi at age of 9. Both her parents dedicated themselves to Sa's piano education. Her mother took her weekly by overnight train from Chongqing to the Chengdu Conservatory for piano lessons. She appeared as the youngest contestant at the age of 16 at the 12th Leeds International Piano Competition and won the fourth prize. The year after, she received a full scholarship to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Prof. Joan Havill in London and received her master's degree in Performance. In 2000, she placed Fourth and the Best Polonaise Performance Award at the 14th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw and received the Crystal Award at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in the year of 2005. Sa graduated from Arie Vardi’s Solo Class at the Hannover Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Germany in 2007, received PhD in Performance.
Over the past decade, Chen Sa has established herself as one of the most charismatic pianists of her generation. She earned critical acclaims at the International Chopin Piano Competition in 2000 and the Twelfth Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2005 which began her professional performing career, bringing her evocative performances to audience around the world.
In recent years, Sa has performed with many prestigious orchestras, some of which are: the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, WDR Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, NHK Symphony Orchestra, China Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, and with renowned conductors including Sir Simon Rattle, Myung-Whun Chung, Semyon Bychkov, Fabio Luisi, Vasily Petrenko, Long Yu among many others.
As an enthusiastic chamber musician, Sa frequently collaborates with many great musicians. She appeared with Gidon Kremer and Natalie Gutman on many tours and music festivals including the prestigious Schleswig Holstein Festival, the Rurl Piano Festival in Germany, the Lockenhaus Music Festival in Austria and the Aix-en-Provence Festival in France.
Sa is a Steinway Artist. She has been nominated for the esteemed Tokyo series “The 100 Greatest Pianists” and as the cover artist of the launching issue of Gramophone magazine Chinese edition. In 2009 Sa was named by the French magazine “L’OFFICIEL” as one of the “Top ten Chinese Artists” . In 2010, the Polish Government honored the Chopin Art Passport to Sa, appreciating her unique interpretation and achievement in Chopin’s music.
Aside from her performance schedule, Sa engages herself in charity work too. In 2007, she was invited by the World Bank and the Norwegian government to premiere the multimedia piano concerto Green Call with the China National Symphony Orchestra in Beijing as part of the environmental protection educational program. She also visits and performs for the students who almost lost their ability to hear at local Special schools in China and in 2015, she gave performance in Washington as part of the “Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day” event.
In the 2015/16 season, Sa will maintain an intensive schedule，including a 22 recital tour in Germany, a 10 recital tour in China, concerto performances with the San Francisco Symphony, debut recital at the Prague Spring Festival, recital at Sala Verdi in Milan and chamber performances at the Bad Kissingen Festival in Germany and the Le French May festival in Hong Kong.
Sa recorded her first studio album Chopin Impression for JVC in 2001, and later the Chopin complete Waltzes for IMC in Japan in 2006. Harmonia Mundi released her live performance recording from the Van Cliburn competition worldwide in 2005. Her albums with PENTATONE include Chopin: The 2 Piano Concertos and Russian Solo Compositions released in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Classical FM selected her Chopin Album as the “Best CD of the Month” for her “soulful performance”. The concerto album, Rachmaninov's Concerto No.2 and Grieg's Piano Concerto was released in 2011. Her latest album Memories Lost featuring modern Chinese compositions has been released worldwide by BIS record in January 2015, described as “the most interesting and successful recording of new Chinese music..” by BBC Music Magazine.
- Rachmaninov & Grieg - Piano Concertos Sa Chen, Lawrence Foster, Gulbenkian Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186444 (2011).
- Rachmaninov - 6 Etudes Tableaux & Mussorgsky - Pictures at an Exhibition & A Night on Bald Mountain. PENTATONE PTC 5186355 (2009).
- Frédéric Chopin - The 2 Piano Concertos. Sa Chen, Lawrence Foster, Gulbenkian Orchestra. PENTATONE PTC 5186341 (2008).
- Waghann, Julian (2013-11-18). "Exclusive: Chinese pianist Chen Sa's journey to world fame". CCTV.com English - Culture Express. Retrieved 22 June 2015.