Artist of the Issue: Victoria Chen ’21


provided by Victoria Chen

Chen performed at Carnegie Hall in January 2019.

Victoria Chen ’21, a four-year Senior from Basking Ridge, is a co-head of the Society of Women in STEM and of Asian-American Advocacy (Triple A). She is also a proctor in Buehler dormitory and co-captain of the Girls JV Hockey team. 


What inspired you to start playing piano?

I started playing piano when I was four years old, just a month away from turning five. Now, it’s been 13 years. I started because my parents suggested that I do it. However, after a year of playing, I wanted to quit, because my teacher forced me to take hour-long lessons, which was very difficult to do at such a young age. After that, I switched teachers, and the new teacher was much more understanding of my needs, which allowed me to really begin to enjoy playing. 


How has the school helped you improve as a music student?

Before coming to Hotchkiss, I participated in a lot of competitions – around five to seven a year. However, since coming to Hotchkiss, I have not been able to compete as much because it is difficult to leave campus for competitions. Instead, I have been able to work on improving my performances a lot more. I have had many opportunities to perform in recitals which were not as stressful and competitive. I have played in recitals from Elfers Hall to Carnegie Hall. Mr. Fabio Witkowski, [instructor in piano and director of art], is a really great performer, and he has helped me to improve a lot.


What motivates you to keep pursuing piano?

Music serves as a personal outlet because it is a time for me to escape from life. I also believe that it is a universal outlet because everybody can enjoy it. Through music, I have been able to do lots of community service, such as performing for the elderly through Songs for Smiles. My main motivation is that music is not only personal, but it also benefits others, and it is really just fun. 


What is the best part about performing?

I love the small adrenaline rush I get every time I am on stage. In that moment, I am really able to show off all of the hard work that I have put into the piece. The audience’s positive reaction is always very rewarding. 


What is your favorite piece of music to play?

Right now I have two favorite pieces, both of which I am currently learning. The first is “Waldstein” by Beethoven and the second is “Isle of Joy” by Debussy. The Beethoven piece is dramatic and bold, but also very pretty. It has a very strict structure, which is common in classical pieces. Debussy is more free-flowing because the Romantic-style pieces are not as strict. Debussy is definitely one of my favorite composers because I love how open his style is.

What advice would you give to students who are considering pursuing music at the school?

Make sure to stay motivated. Make sure that you are enjoying what you are doing. As a musician, it is important to try things that are new, so if you don’t like the piece you are playing, then maybe try a different composer. My other piece of advice would be to make sure to set aside time every day to practice, usually about an hour. Consistently practicing will help you build up your memory over time and make sure that you have time to improve the piece, which will make music much more enjoyable. 


This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.