Phyllis Chen

Phyllis Chen

 New York City, New York, USA

My music is unusual because it is novelty with depth. I make a living performing toy pianos and found objects. It is experimental in nature and ranges from serious to humorous to fantasy. My music strives to magnify small things and turn them into an immersive environment.


Praised by the New York Times for her “delightful quirkiness matched with interpretive sensitivity,” Phyllis is a pianist,toy pianist and multimedia artist that performs original multimedia compositions and works by contemporary composers. The Chicago Reader confirms Phyllis has “become one of the world’s leading proponents of the toy piano.” Her artistic pursuits take her in numerous directions as a toy pianist, pianist, composer and multimedia artist, leading to her selection as a New Music/New Places Fellow at the 2007 Concert Artist Guild International Competition.
Playing an instrument that has no set boundaries or genres, Phyllis has been invited to perform at a large variety of festivals,concerts,clubs and (non)traditional venues. This past Fall, Phyllis made her toy piano debut at several world music festivals, including the Chicago World Music Festival and Lotus World Music Festival. This Spring, she will be making appearances at several distinguished keyboard festivals including the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival and Portland Piano International. Phyllis is currently involved with "Theatre For One," a portable performance space for one performer and one audience member, making public events into private acts. The theatre will be in Time Square from May 14-23rd. Other recent concerts have included King's Place(London), Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), Amnesia Bar (San Francisco) ,Anthropology (San Diego) Flying Teapot (Tokyo), and Ecole (Taipei).

Phyllis founded the UnCaged Toy Piano, a composition competition to further expand the repertoire for toy piano and electronics. The competition has received works from composers all around the world and these compositions become an integral part of her repertoire. As a composer,Phyllis has created several interdisciplinary works in collaboration with video artist and electronic musician Rob Dietz. The duo has created multimedia works such as The Memoirist, Pearlessence, Chroma and Carousel. The two of them are interested in co-creating new works that rethink the idea of live art and performance using music and visuals.

Recently, Phyllis was the featured solo musician for the world premiere of Stephin Merritt’s Off-Broadway production, Coraline in May 2009 at the Lucille Lortel Theater in New York City. In this unique on-stage performance, Phyllis was the show’s sole instrumentalist. She was praised for her "dazzling" (Financial Times) and "impressive" (New York Times) performance as a multi-keyboardist, big and small. Other recent premieres include a commissioned work by American composer/percussionist Nathan Davis for toy piano and clock chimes premiered at Symphony Space as part of the Concert Artist Guild New Music/New Places Series. In May 2010, Phyllis will be premiering a new work “Whatever Shall Be” for toy piano, MAX/MSP, music box, gadgets and quadrophonic sound set-up by Austrian composer, Karlheinz Essl. The work will be premiered as part of the Look & Listen Festival in New York City.

To find out more about how Phyllis fell in love with the toy piano, please visit her website at


UnCaged Toy Piano (2009)
This CD has been played on WNYC (New York), WFMT(Chicago), WFHB (Bloomington, IN), WUSB (Stonybrook, NY) and WBJC (Baltimore)