(JTA) – A rising star in the world of piano opened a performance at New York City’s Carnegie Hall last week with Israel’s national anthem.
Footage circulating on social media showed Kevin Chen, 18, sitting at the piano bench and, without introduction, beginning to play the melody. After the first few notes, members of the audience joined in singing Hatikvah, Hebrew for “the hope”.
Chen, who is Canadian, won first prize in the prestigious Arthur Rubinstein Piano Master Competition in Tel Aviv earlier this year, which is geared toward young pianists.
He has performed with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, and the Israel Camerata, according to Canada’s National Arts Centre. Chen is also a composer, has performed with a range of other orchestras and won numerous awards.
Since Hamas attacked the south of Israel earlier this month, killing 1400 and wounding thousands, and in the midst of the ensuing war Israel is fighting against the terror group in Gaza, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra has held free concerts for refugees from southern Israel and the capital’s residents. The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, which performs in Tel Aviv, has cancelled all upcoming events.
The announced program for Chen’s performance at Carnegie Hall included numbers by Felix Mendelssohn, Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt.
Israel’s official account on X shared footage of the performance, thanking Chen and saying he was “paying tribute to the Israeli victims murdered and those who are being held hostage by Hamas”.