2:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 12, 2023 • The Centrum

In “The Silk Road”, pianist Chelsea de Souza explores the East-West dualities of her heritage through a program that draws from her Indian background as much as it does from the long tradition of Western classical music. Through music by composers ranging from Franck and Debussy to Indian-American Reena Esmail, Chelsea asks the question of what it means to be truly multicultural in the 21st century.  

Performance Location: The Centrum, 6823 Cypresswood Dr., Spring 77379
Date & Time: 2:00 p.m. September 12, 2023
Tickets: $15 Adult, $12 Senior, $10 Child/Student, $10 Groups of 6 or more
Season Ticket Sales: On Sale Now
Single Ticket Sales: 9am, Monday, July 31, 2023

Chelsea de Souza

Known for her dynamic artistry and thought-provoking recital programming, Indian pianist Chelsea de Souza is a Steinway Young Artist equally at home in the worlds of traditional and new music.  Described as “fierce and focused” (rediff), with “an alluring stage presence” (The Hindu), she has appeared in concert as a soloist and chamber musician across the US, Belgium, France, Germany and India, and performed live on NBC TV and Kansas Public Radio. 2022-23 season highlights include recitals for Minnesota Orchestra’s Summer season, Houston Methodist’s Center for Performing Arts Medicine, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Menil Collection and Cypress Creek FACE; performances with New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck for Artists at the Center; presentations at the 2023 National Opera Association Conference; and a commissioning Project Grant from New Music USA and the world premiere of a new work by composer Nicky Sohn. 

A consummate chamber musician as well, Chelsea has performed at La Jolla Summerfest and as a Young Artist Fellow with the DACAMERA Chamber Music and Jazz Series in Houston. She has collaborated with award-winning groups “Alarm Will Sound” and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra, and the contemporary ensembles at Oberlin Conservatory, the Peabody Institute and the Shepherd School. A committed performer of music by living composers, she has commissioned and premiered numerous works for solo piano and small ensemble at museums, colleges and festivals across the US. Together with her sister, soprano and pianist Chloe de Souza, she has given recital and masterclass tours across several cities in India, funded by outreach and entrepreneurship grants including the Shansi In-Asia Grant and the Oberlin Creativity and Leadership Fund. 

Growing up in Mumbai, India, Chelsea’s musical roots were grounded in a blend of western classical and popular styles. Now she strives to explore issues of identity and culture in her performances through her versatile, genre-defying artistry. She was part of Oberlin’s Performance and Improvisation Series exploring jazz and world music for two years, including a Young Artist Residency with the Detroit String and Wind Society and performances at Cleveland Orchestra’s Severance Hall. She is currently on tour with Dr. Jolie Rocke with their one singer-one pianist production of “Singing Herstory”, which pays h0mage to fourteen pioneering female African-American performers.

Chelsea draws inspiration from the diverse artists she has worked with, including classical greats such as Leon Fleisher, Andras Schiff and Richard Goode, Grammy-award winning popular groups like the Punch Brothers and Snarky Puppy, and international musicians like Israeli jazz pianist-composer Alon Yavnai and Palestinian-American oud player Simon Shaheen. Her recent grant from New Music USA for her project “Blurred Origins: Redefining Culture through Music” funds the commission of a new work for cello and piano that refocuses discussions of culture around the individual, with particular emphasis on Asian-American voices. A singer as well, Chelsea was co-director of Oberlin’s longest-running all-female a cappella group ‘Nothing But Treble’. 

A finalist of the 2021 Concert Artists Guild Emerging Artist Competition, Chelsea has won four All-India piano competitions, the IIYM International Piano Competition, the Oberlin Concerto Competition, the Global Scholar-Education World Young Achievers Award in Music and Arts, and second prizes at the 2020 Young Texas Artists and the 2019 Cranbrook Music Guild Emerging Artist competitions. She holds Bachelor’s degrees in Politics and in Piano Performance and Vocal Accompanying from Oberlin College and Conservatory, where she studied with Peter Takacs, and a Master’s degree from the Peabody Institute of Music with Boris Slutsky. She is now completing her doctorate at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University with Jon Kimura Parker, where she also teaches classes in music theory and hybrid music of the Indian diaspora. In her spare time, Chelsea loves exploring cultures through experimenting in the kitchen, just as she does at the piano.