Collaborate Piano

Instrumental coach:


ZHEN CHEN has emerged as a soloist and chamber music artist on important stages in USAand China, such as Stern Auditorium, Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall, Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center, LeFrak Concert Hall in New York, China National Center for Performing Arts, and Tianjin Recital Hall. From 2008 to 2010, he was the featured solo pianist with China Xinhua Philharmonic Orchestra and performed concert tour around China. Zhen won first prize of Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition in 2009, New York; second Prize at Hong Kong-Asia Piano Open Competition in 2007; and second Prize at China-US Heintzman Cup Youth Piano Competition in 2005. Because of his highly acclaimed music talent, he has been invited as a guest artist to play recitals at the Alexander & Buono International Annual Galas in 2011 and 2012 at Carnegie Hall, New York.

After finishing Master of Music program in classical piano performance at Manhattan School of Music, Zhen was accepted to Master of Music program in accompanying at Manhattan School of Music with full scholarship and kept on his further study on chamber music. He was invited as a collaborative pianist to Castleman Quartet Program at College of Music, University of Colorado Boulder in 2012 and performed violin and piano duo recitals with violinist Charles Castleman. In 2012, Zhen initiated the Jade Duo with acclaimed Chinese violinist Shuai Shi in New York. The Jade Duo were coached by violinist Pinchas Zukerman, Dr. Heasook Rhee and Peter Winograd of the American Quartet, and won first prize at 2013 Artur Balsam Competition for Duos in New York, USA and second prize at 2013 J.C. Arriaga Chamber Music Competition in Connecticut, USA. The exceptional collaborative performance brought them recording contract with U.S. label MSR Classics. Debut CD FAURÉ, SCHUMANN, BARTÓK Sonatas for Violin and Piano was released in October 2014 in USA. The CD has been highly praised by critics with publications such as Fanfare, American Record Guide, Audiophile Audition and ClassicalNet.

As the crystallization of his academic and artistic training in chamber music, he translated the book by Dr. Heasook Rhee: The Art of Instrumental Accompanying (published by Carl Fisher, New York) into Chinese, and the Chinese version has been published by the Central Conservatory of Music Press, the leading classical music publishing house in China . To recognize Zhen’s contribution to the filed of chamber music, Manhattan School of Music granted him Helen Cohen Award, an award for a pianist who has done outstanding work in chamber music in 2014.

Besides his devotion to classical music, Zhen is also an avid advocator for contemporary music. In 2013, Zhen worked with Jeffery Milarsky, a leading conductor of contemporary music and conducting faculty at Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, and performed Ballet mècanique by American composer George Antheil (1900-1959) at Borden Auditorium of Manhattan School of Music. In 2014, he was invited as a guest artist to perform Suite for Violin and Piano composed by American composer Edward Smaldone, Director of Aaron Copland School of Music of Queens College in the Concert Celebrating 40 Years at Queens College, and shared the stage with the prominent artists, such as clarinetist Charles Niedich and violinist Daniel Phillips.Zhen studied in classes of Sylvia Rosenberg, Robert McDonald, Frank Peter, Zimmermann, David Geber, and Miriam Fried. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in piano performance at Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and earned his Master’s Degree in piano performance under Dr. Arkady Aronov and Master’s Degree in instrumental accompanying and chamber music with Dr. Heasook Rhee at Manhattan School of Music. Zhen currently works at Manhattan School of Music as a Staff Pianist, and he also holds the position of the Music Director of St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church (established 1884) in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Vocal coach:


Dan Franklin Smith is a resident of New York City but performs in colleges, universities, museums and concert halls throughout the US and Europe. He has been described as “an incredibly sensitive player” and “a master pianist.” Accolades such as “breathtakingly beautiful,” “technical wizardry,” “brilliant technique and emotional fervor” appear in every review. An Aliso Viejo, California, headline proclaimed, “Classical Pianist Moves Audience to Tears.”

He graduated as a piano major from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and made his European recital debut in 1997 just outside of Stockholm, Sweden, where he received a standing ovation and rave reviews. The following year he made his European orchestral debut in Stockholm at Sofia Kyrkan and was later featured on Swedish TV. A debut recording with the Gävle Symfoniorkester soon followed, and not long afterward, a recording with the Stuttgart Philharmonic. These premier recordings received outstanding reviews and are broadcast on dozens of classical stations throughout the US.

As Music Director and recital soloist with the international festival, Elysium: Between Two Continents, he is showcased in performances here and in Europe. Major German newspapers praise his work for “stirring emotionalism, precision with keen intensity, the subtle hesitations and shifts that constitute great expression.” He has received high praise time and again from Munich’s Süddeutsche Zeitung as well as the Münchner Merkur, Coburger Tageblatt and Neue Presse.

Recent and future highlights include performances in Maryland, Georgia, Minnesota, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, New York, Virginia, Florida, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin, Arizona, New Mexico, Canada, and California, where he played performances of Brahms’ First Piano Concerto and toured again in 2010. His European engagements have included Bernried, Dessau, Coswig, Wittenberg, and Leipzig in Germany, Oslo, Paris, London, including recitals at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and appearances in Sweden. In past summer seasons he performed in Berlin, Munich, Bernried, Coburg, Offenbach, Neuwied, Brussels, London, Zagreb, Warsaw, Lodz, and Kiev. In fall 2010 he appeared at the Bruckner Festival in Linz and the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

As chamber musician and vocal accompanist, he has performed at venues such as The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. — where he recently presented a solo recital and was immediately invited back for a return engagement in 2012 — the Cleveland Museum’s Distinguished Artist Series, and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City, as well as tours in Bermuda, Taiwan, and Puerto Rico.

He is the recipient of a Performing Artist Grant from the American-Scandinavian Foundation of New York City, which provided funds for him as piano soloist in an orchestral performance in Stockholm. He is a member of the American Matthay Association for Piano, and frequently performs at their yearly conferences.