An artist of singular vision, pianist Jenny Q Chai is widely renowned for her ability to illuminate musical connections throughout the centuries. With razor-sharp intention, Chai integrates her prodigy’s training with personal fascinations in the latest in live electronics, artificial intelligence, and environmental research, creating layered multimedia programs and events which explore and unite elements of science, nature, and art.
Based both in Shanghai and New York City, Chai’s instinctive understanding of new music is complemented by a deep grounding in core repertoire, with special affinity for Schumann, Scarlatti, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, and Ravel. She is also a noted interpreter of twentieth-century masters: Cage, Messiaen, Kurtág, and Ligeti. And her career is threaded through with strong relationships and close collaborations with a range of notable contemporary composers, including Nils Vigeland, Marco Stroppa, Jarosław Kapuściński, and Cindy Cox, among others.
Chai has won acclaim for performances in New York City, at Carnegie Hall (Zankel), (le) Poisson Rouge, Roulette, and Symphony Space. She has appeared in Chicago and Baltimore; throughout Germany, Belgium, Spain; at the Gaudeamus New Music and the Darmstadt International Festival for New Music. In China, she has appeared regularly at the Shanghai Concert Hall, and is widely known as a leading advocate for contemporary music, having given the Chinese premiere of numerous contemporary masterworks, including works by Messiaen, Cage, and the very first prepared piano concert in the country.
Her immersive approach to music is also channelled into her work with FaceArt Institute of Music, the Shanghai-based organization she founded and runs, offering music education and an international exchange of music and musicians in China and beyond. She also serves on the Board of Directors of the New York City-based contemporary music organization Ear to Mind. Chai’s talents have been showcased on recordings with Ensemble 20/21 on the Deutschlandfunk label (music by Hanns Eisler) and as solo pianist/vocalist on ArpaViva’s New York Love Songs. Her solo disc of music by Nils Vigeland, including Five Pieces (for Jenny Q Chai), was released by Naxos in the fall of 2014.
The recipient of the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust’s 2011 Pianist/Composer Commissioning Project, the DAAD Arts and Performance award in 2010, and 1st Prize winner of the Keys to the Future Contemporary Solo Piano Festival, Jenny Q Chai studied at the Shanghai Music Conservatoire, Curtis Institute of Music, Manhattan School of Music, and in Germany with Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Her teachers include Aimard, Seymour Lipkin, Solomon Mikowsky, and Anthony de Mare. Marilyn Nonken is Chai’s thesis adviser for her doctoral dissertation, Manifesto on Marco Stroppa’s “Miniature Estrose”.