Polish Cultural Foundation Announces Chopin Concert

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CLARK—Three young, local pianists will perform at the Polish Cultural Foundation in Clark on Sunday, Feb. 28, to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Frederic Chopin.

Melvin Diep, Kevin Shi and Joseph Shippee will perform at the 3 p.m. concert. Tickets are available at the foundation for $7 in advance and $10 the day of the concert.

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Chopin is regarded as one of the greatest masters of the Romantic Period. The Polish pianist and composer was born outside of Warsaw during the occupation of his homeland by its three partitioning neighbors. It was a tumultuous period for Poland and its people, so many artists and writers developed themes built on the classical ideals of chivalry, nobility and honor. His works were greatly admired during his lifetime and continue to enjoy popularity throughout the world.

Born and raised in Westfield, Melvin Diep, 19, had an accomplished high school piano career in New Jersey.  Studying under Dr. Ferdinand Gajewski, he was a many time winner of the Music Educator’s Association of New Jersey Piano Competition, the winner of the Joseph Israel Bookstaber Competition and a Prize Winner of the Plainfield Young Artist’s Competition.
Diep has also performed at the Polish Cultural Foundation with Anna and Piotr Filochowski in his senior year of high school. Diep was also an accomplished violinist, a member of the New Jersey All-State Orchestra for four years, a first violinist in the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra, and the concert master of the Westfield High School Orchestra.

After graduating Westfield High School, Diep was accepted to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and was the recipient of the Edward P. Frohlich Piano Scholarship Fund. Diep is currently a sophomore at the University of Michigan, studying Piano Performance under Dr. Arthur Greene, and was recently invited to compete in the International Carl Filtsch Competition in Sibiu, Romania.

Pianist Joseph Shippee is a master’s student in piano performance at New York University under the tutelage of Dr. Jose Mendez.  Before matriculating to New York University, Shippee pursued his passion for sharing music as a student at Williams College.  While there, he was twice a featured soloist with the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Ronald Feldman, performing Liszt’s Totentanz and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

He was a member of Williams College’s Symphonic Winds ensemble, most notably playing the Piano I part of John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music.  After college, Shippee put his music career on hold, working as an investment banker at J.P. Morgan.  Upon returning to music this past summer, he was one of twelve pianists to participate in the Beethoven Institute, an annual program at Mannes College in New York City featuring master classes and recitals of pieces exclusively by Beethoven.

His former teachers include J.Y. Song (Mannes), Doris Stevenson (Williams College), Chiu-Ling Lin, and Jan Johnson. He has participated in masterclasses led by distinguished pianists such as Garrick Ohlsson, Alexander Slobodyanik, Jeremy Denk, Robert McDonald, and Ursula Oppens.

Kevin Shi is a senior at New Providence High School. He has been playing piano for twelve years and currently studies with pianist and musicologist Ferdinand Gajewski. Shi was a winner in the Joseph Israel Bookstaber and NJ Federation of Music Clubs piano competitions.

He has performed at the Crescent Concerts Showcase for Exceptional Young Artists and received numerous awards from the NJ Music Educator’s Association. Shi also plays the violin and is concertmaster of his school orchestra. Other than music, Shi is an avid chess player. His interests are in mathematics and particle physics.

The Polish Cultural Foundation, a non-profit organization is located at 177 Broadway, Clark, just off exit 135 of the Garden State Parkway. For further information, call the foundation office at 1-732-382-7197, weekdays between 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.


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