The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation supports cooperations and exchange of German and foreign scientists. They allow foreign scientists to come to Germany in order to conduct a project of their choice with a local partner. Thanks to the American citizen Hezekiah Wardwell who gave a prize to the foundation also Spanish musicians can benefit from these scholarships. Wardwell died in 1964 but willed part of his patrimony to the foundation to sponsor the Spanisch music. Since 1970 the foundation was able to promote 180 scientists. Suitable candidats are invited to a casting which takes place annualy in Madrid or Berlin. The scholarships offers a further formation or a post-graduate career throughout two terms at a conservatory in Germany. 

What does the music scholarship offer?

Cheng-I Chen
is one the lucky Spanish students that got this scholarship. She was born in Madrid in 1981. Cheng-I has taken several master classes with Joaquín Achúcarro, Andreu Riera, Vitaly Margulis, Christophe Rousset, Olivier Baumont, Malcolm Bilson, Bart van Oort, Enrico Baiano, and Alexei Lubimov.

Cheng-I Chen has played in almost all the European countries, USA and Taiwan as soloist with orchestra or band, piano, harpsichord or fortepiano solo recitals, chamber music concerts, pedagogical exhibitions and piano duo performances. She has taught piano and chamber music at the Madrid Conservatory since 2002 and also teaches in various summer schools.

She has been teaching also in the Guadalajara Conservatory for one year. She gives lectures (for instance on the Biedermeier Style, Northamerican Piano Music, Historical Keyboard Playing, Harpsichord Contemporary Music) in Spain and Taiwan. She was a member of the Madrid Young Orchestra and she has also performed with the Madrid Symphonic Orchestra. She is also member of the Spanish contemporary music ensemble “Grupo Cosmos 21”. In an interview she tells us about the Wardwell-scholarship and her career.

When did you get the sholarship?
I had the scholarship from 2004 to 2005
What does it consist of?
You get paid 800 euros/month during 10 months in order to help you cover the expenses living abroad. This amount was more than enough to pay off the room and food there.

Interview with Cheng-I Chen

What does it meant for your career?
It was not only the money for living but also that an important foundation had chosen you as somebody who is worth
it for a economical support.

How was your stay in Germany?
Wonderful, in many aspects. First of all, I learnt a lot there, I worked hard, I had wonderful teachers, I improved a lot. In other hand, I met lots of new friends there (Spanish, Chinese and from other countries) and of course: I learnt a new language.

What do you think about musical education there?
In comparison to Spain, I think musical education in Germany is much better. The level of commitment of students, teachers and the school itself is much deeper there than in Spain, generally speaking. Everybody is more engaged in the education.

What are you doing right now?
I am professor at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid. I actually got this position before my German experience but I felt that I needed more training with other teachers. And besides teaching at the conservatory, I usually play on concerts.