Musician Performs Traditional Art with a Modern Twist

Bailey Adcock

She has performed in New York, China, Cuba and Spain. Now Jenny Q Chai is performing her award-winning contemporary piano pieces for Georgia Southern University. She flew into Savannah on Wednesday, straight from performing at Poland’s biggest music festival, to grace us with a performance as part of the On the Verge series. The series is directed by Georgia Southern faculty member Martin Gendelman, who convinced Chai to come and perform for Georgia Southern students and Statesboro residents.

Chai is a Chinese-American pianist known around the world for her modern twist on an ancient talent. Originally trained in classical music, Chai always knew that there was something missing. Originally sparked by her passion for piano playing, she also enjoyed the human interactions she was able to have through working with composers.

When asked about her reason for switching from classical music, she said, “[With classical] you prepare your pieces and go for your lessons, or competition, and people judge you and they praise you. It’s sort of a very lonely occupation.”

One way that Chai has modernized her performance is that she incorporates technology and artificial intelligence into her performances. This is one of the reasons she believes that college students will enjoy coming to see her performance, which she describes as “experimental.”

The performance, which takes place Friday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Carter Recital Hall (located in the Foy Building), begins with her take on György Kurtág’s series “Játékok” and ends with a piece entitled “Juicy,” which is composed by a Stanford University professor.

Chai prides herself on her pieces being “multisensory,” which means involving and not just listening, but watching as well. The use of an artificial intelligence system and other “cutting-edge technology” is just one interesting part of the show. Another impressive aspect is Jenny’s wardrobe, which is composed of pieces that she has designed herself.

Having performed, and lived, all over the world, the city of Statesboro is extremely lucky to have her. Along with her passion for performing, Chai also has a passion for teaching. She founded FaceArt Institute of Music, a program trains and educates aspiring musicians from around the world, in Shanghai and helps to direct it.

Along with teaching at FaceArt, she has taught at colleges such as NYU, Harvard and the Manhattan School of Music. On Thursday, Sept. 24 Georgia Southern piano students have the chance to attend her Master Class in the Carter Recital Hall from 10-11:30 a.m., and composition students may attend her composition workshop from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in the Music Department Annex.