Sheng Cai, piano
Since his debut with the Toronto Symphony at just fifteen years old, he has enjoyed numerous engagements as guest soloist with the symphonies of Quebec, Windsor, Fort Collins and Shanghai, as well as with the Calgary Philharmonic, Ontario Philharmonic, Jalisco Philharmonic and New Bedford Symphony, among others. In Canada, Sheng Cai has been invited to perform with the Sudbury and Kamloops Symphonies, and with the Winnipeg Symphony Chamber Players. He has worked with such conductors as David Lockington, Keith Lockhart, Dirk Meyer, Yoav Talmi, Eckart Preu, Marco Parisotto, Glen Fast, Robert Franz, Bruce Dunn and Guoyong Zhang.
In recital, Sheng Cai has been heard in such North American venues as Steinway Hall in New York, Jordan Hall in Boston, the Cleveland Play House, the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, the Alys Stephens Center in Birgmingham, CBC's Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, and other distinguished venues in Stratford, Elora, Montreal and Winnipeg. In China, he inaugurated the Ningbo Concert Hall, giving both recitals and concerto performances. As a chamber musician, Sheng Cai has collaborated with a number of fine artists, including the Enso Quartet. Many of his performances have been broadcast on CBC Radio, and he has recorded a CD for the Canadian Broadcast Company. In addition, he was invited to take part in the filming of Franz Liszt DVD of Ophra Yerushalmi.
Sheng Cai also recorded at the Glenn Gould Studio for Concertino Praga International Competition in the Czech Republic, these were released under the Canadian Broadcasting Company label.
He was top prize winner at competitions throughout his teenage years, including First Prize at the TD National Piano Competition, the Canadian Music Competition, the Toronto Music Competition, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra Piano Competition, Toronto Symphony Piano Competition, and was the youngest finalist and special prize winner at the Bosendorfer International Piano Competition and the youngest finalist at Hilton Head International Piano Competition.
Born in China, Sheng Cai studied at Shanghai Conservatory of Music and was a prize winner of the National Competition in 1998. The following year, his family immigrated to Canada where he began study at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Sheng Cai earned his Bachelor of Music Degree under full scholarship at New England Conservatory in Boston. His teachers have included pianists Anton Kuerti, Russell Sherman and Hungkuan Chen.
"Young pianist impresses at debut [headline] This is young man with real talent... from a clear, singing tone to a subtle sense of rubato to a judicious choice of tempi"
"[Conductor Dirk] Meyer certainly chose the most challenging program of the season, but also performed with the most electrifying soloist of the season."
"His playing was punctuated with big, tomato-ripe notes and gorgeously shaped passage work. The reflective second movement showed great sensitivity, but he is no less impressive in the third movement variations which alternated between turbulence and calm. His encore was equally thrilling."
"By contrast, Sheng Cai revealed much of the pieces's spirit, capturing both the circus aura and endearing qualities (Stravinsky)... Persuasive in the Haydn which received a fine array of dynamics and nuanced details."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"a terrific piano soloist" "Introspective, deeply felt, Sheng carved out a personal sounding approach to the [second] movement." "There was much to like about this performance...nothing but excellence."
"great confidence, temperamental piano, impressive for its bravura... gave more lucidity, breath, color and power."
"A brilliant pianist... gave it a fresh sparkle."
"The program turned romantic with Chopin's Ballade No. 1, at times warm and eloquent, at times openly exuberant, it was a clean and precise display of virtuoso piano playing... an impressive artist in his own right." more
Pictures at an Exhibition
Rachmaninoff: Sonata No. 2, op. 36
Debussy: Images - Book 1
Scarlatti: Sonata in F minor, K.466
Rachmaninoff: Etude Tableau op. 39, #5 [Sheng Cai on Horowitz's piano]
Scriabin: Sonata No.5, op. 53
Chopin: Ballade #1, op. 23
Debussy: Clair de lune