Pianist Pi-Hsun Shih /ˈpē-shun ˈshē / 施碧薫, Doctor of Musical Arts, was born in Taichung, Taiwan. She began studying piano at age 7 in her hometown and later attended the high school affiliated with National Taiwan Normal University 師大附中. She then attended the Taipei National University of the Arts 國立臺北藝術大學. Both of these demanding schools accept only the top 3% of music students in the country.
Inspired by two of her teachers in Taiwan, Rolf-Peter Wille and Juanelva Rose, Pi-Hsun came to the United States to pursue higher music education. She received a master's degree at Boston University and a doctoral degree at the Hartt School where she studied with Hung-Kuan Chen and Gary Steigerwalt. During that time, she performed with the Hartt Symphony Orchestra and the Emerson String Quartet - the winner of both concerto and chamber music competitions.
In her early music career, Pi-Hsun was invited by the late Maestro Eleazar de Carvalho as a featured soloist to perform with the Sao Paulo State Symphony Orchestra in Brazil. She was also appointed as the principal keyboardist by Maestro Enrique Bátiz Campbell for the Mexico State Symphony Orchestra in Mexico with which she also performed as a soloist. While playing for the Mexico State Symphony, she made a clarinet-piano recording as part of Duo Asiatica, whose self-titled album was chosen as the Record of the Month by Shanghai Xinmin Newspaper. In the United States, a review of the recording by the International Clarinet Magazine praised Pi-Hsun for her "passionate virtuosity…tour de force…" Because of the success of the recording, she was also invited as the collaborative pianist at The International Clarinet Festival.
Pi-Hsun has made Hartford, Connecticut her home, where she continues to enjoy a versatile career as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and teacher. She is the pianist of the New World (Piano) Trio for over a decade. The trio has been the ensemble in residence at prestigious performance venues in Connecticut such as the Bushnell Performing Arts Center, Warner Theater, Miss Porter's School, and St John's Episcopal Church in West Hartford. Her live performance with the trio was described by the Hartford Courant as "searing precision.. agile ease and brilliant flashes of panache.." She also enjoyed playing piano duets with her sister Yu-Chen Shih (Duo Asiana). They won second place at the International Chamber Music Ensemble Competition in Boston.
Beyond concertizing in New England, she and Russian-American cellist/composer Tanya Anisimova have formed the Farela Duo which performed at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and toured frequently throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions. The duo has published many popular live and studio recordings on YouTube.
Pi-Hsun's experience with many diverse chamber ensembles has allowed her to build on a strong grounding in the classical repertoire as well as explore new music. She has premiered new works by many composers such as David Macbride (A Special Light, Innova/Naxos record), Stephen Gryc, Shih-Hui Chen, Kurt Stallman, Dan Román (Musica de Palladium, Innova record), Ken Steen, Gwyneth Walker, Robert Edward Smith, and Tanya Anisimova.
Pi-Hsun's vibrant performing career goes hand-in-hand with her active teaching schedule at the Hartt School Community Division. She teaches private lessons, chamber music and demonstrates for student teachers. She has also taught at Mount Holyoke College and Wesleyan University.
Pi-Hsun's teaching philosophy is an integration of her heritage and western training. To her, teaching benefits teachers, as well as students, and both make progress by learning from each other. She believes every student is unique and her responsibility is to help students find their inner voices through music-making. This goal is achievable, first, by orienting students to a series of techniques and styles. Secondly, her teaching strategies adapt to the traits and the needs of students to help their learning process and build individuality. She ensures her guidance is applicable by frequently questioning and encouraging reflection to develop the students' independent thinking and awareness. This teaching philosophy also coincides with some fundamental educational thoughts from Confucius. (有教無類，因材施教，教學相長)
During this Pandemic and social distancing time, Pi-Hsun has launched a series of short videos on her YouTube channel to portray new aspects of life as a person, a performer, and a teacher. She hopes through these thought experiments and video technology, she will explore new paths and possibilities for classical music and bring the community closer together.
As a piano teacher, I believe every student is unique. My responsibility is to help students find their individuality and to grow their wisdom along with music making. This goal is achievable through orienting students to a series of structural disciplines. These disciplines are applicable and will prepare them to function effectively in the musical world.
I strongly believe that preparation is an essential key to success. My teaching philosophy centers on planning and preparing my students mentally and physically for performances. I believe this teaching philosophy will train students to have the right attitude to commit to the music they are making.