By Merle Exit
It’s been a long road traveled for Nan-Chang Chen, but the Forest Hills resident continues to make an impact on the musical world.
Chen, 26, founded the New Asia Chamber Music Society and is currently serving as the group’s executive director. The organization has grown exponentially since its inception in 2011 and Chen said he is proud of what it has accomplished since.
“During the past six years, we have been actively building our organization’s infrastructure and engaging musicians and audiences alike by expanding our repertoire and commissioning new works,” he said. “Following our Carnegie Hall debut in 2011, we have performed extensively in the New York area, toured across the U.S. and internationally.”
Chen’s road to founding the organization began in his younger days when he arrived in the United States from overseas.
“I had just finished elementary school in Taiwan, and came to the United States by myself to attend a boarding arts high school in Southern California,” Chen said.
It was at that point that Chen met Wei-Yang Andy Lin, a fellow student, and the duo instantly became a big part of each other’s lives.
“At the time, I knew no one in this country, spoke absolutely zero English, and on top of all that I was the youngest student in the entire school,” Chen said. “Knowing that I needed help, the school officials decided to ask another then-15-year-old, also a Chinese-speaking student to help me, to get used to the environment quickly. Our friendship continued and he has been my big brother since 16 years ago.”
Chen and Lin remained close after high school and continued their journey together, which included a stop at one of the most prestigious music schools in the country.
“We both came to the East Coast after high school, received degrees from the Juilliard School, and now are working as full-time professional musicians in this artistic city,” Chen said. “Besides our friendship, our musical collaboration also started all the way back then.”
Chen and Lin are still working together today, as the latter serves as the artistic director of the New Asia Chamber Music Society. The duo enjoys performing together and the organization gives them the opportunity to do so.
“Being a classical musician in the city, we are often asked to form chamber groups for concerts, recording projects and other gigs,” Chen said. “With this, in conjunction with our love for chamber music, we decided to form New Asia Chamber Music Society to gather top musicians and perform at our highest level possible.”
Chen has received several accolades for his performances throughout the year and has collaborated with various music organizations. Among his many achievements, Chen was named a first place winner in the Queens Symphony’s Young Artist Competition (Senior Division) in 2010.
Aside from serving as the executive director of the New Asia Chamber Music Society, Chen has also worked as a music teacher at Queens College since 2015 and is currently a doctoral candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center. He teaches a cello studio course and a chamber music course in addition to assisting in two music theory courses.
Chen said he’s thrilled to help the next generation of musicians.
“It is an opportunity I received from CUNY Graduate Center and I sincerely treasure this experience as a teaching role that allows me to grow further as a musician,” he said.
Chen manages to balance his time between his work as a teacher and his involvement with the New Asia Chamber Music Society. He said the organization is always looking for new members who are enthusiastic about chamber music and easy to work with, “not just someone who is good at playing their own instrument. Therefore, a good chamber musician is rare, and we are lucky to have the team we have now.”