Eight-year-old Kevin Chen doesn't talk much, but he sure can play the piano. He's also a gifted composer, and that has some comparing him to a young Mozart.

Two years ago, Chen was the youngest person in Canada to pass the Grade 9 exam at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Now he has his ARCT, or teacher's diploma.

Chen hears music in his head, and enters it directly into his computer. He's already had some performances of his music. In October, the Abbotsford Youth Orchestra played his Symphony No. 1, and in the same concert Chen played Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 23. For an added bonus, conductor Calvin Dyck and his teacher Colleen Athparia played a few of his works for violin and piano.

Athparia feels that Chen is the most talented student she has taught in her more than 30 years of teaching.

"Kevin's complete innocence, his natural understanding and deep comprehension of music, and his rapture with sound make him the most extraordinary prodigy I have ever seen," she says. "His incredible ability to compose a full symphony without any supervision and to sight-read and memorize any music almost instantaneously is truly amazing."

Chen treated CBC Music to a special living room performance of a couple of his favourite pieces. He enjoyed the experience so much that he went home and wrote a new piece called Excitement.



Listen to CBC Music’s Piano stream

posted by Catherine McClelland on Jan 15, 2014