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Candace Marie Chien is our 2022 Spotlight Artist! “Music for Autism’s message resonates with me as a performer, teacher, and human who lives on the spectrum,” says Candace, who connected with us in 2019. Since then, Candace Marie Chien has dazzled our audiences with three incredible solo, duo, and group performances.

“Music has always been my constant companion,” Candace told us while reflecting on her relationship with music. “While many aspects of my daily life left me feeling isolated and lonely as a child, I felt an inherent relatability to the composers who wrote the great works of classical music, and the artists who brought them to life. […] I listened to CDs featuring Chopin’s works constantly on repeat, and thought to myself, ‘if recordings could make me feel my strongest feelings, I cannot wait to become an artist who could make audiences feel that way.’  If I could communicate the unspoken to others, I would never feel alone, or misunderstood, because the music would say it all for me.” We are so grateful to feature artists like Candace, someone who profoundly understands the impact that music has on our audiences.

Candace is a graduate of The Juilliard School, studying with Jonathan Feldman and Margo Garrett. She received her Master’s degree in piano performance at the Manhattan of School of Music with the guidance of Jeffery Cohen and obtained her undergraduate degree in piano performance at Temple University under Professor Harvey Wedeen.

“This news is just a fantastic ray of hope in this new year!! Candace’s artistry and humanity are extraordinary,” says Robert Accordino, US Founder and Chair of the Board of M4A. “We are so lucky, as an organization, to have benefitted and to continue to benefit hugely from them in supporting the families we serve.”

In 2020, Candace performed a Music for Autism concert with her husband as part of their violin/piano duo, Alighieri Duo. Her boundless creativity was on full display when she showed our virtual audience how to make a homemade shaker with just a small container and some rice. Her chamber music performances have taken her all over the east coast of the US, Canada, and Sweden, and has performed with members of the New York Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony. Candace also loves sharing her love of classical music to younger generations. She has held music teaching positions in public schools of Westfield, New Jersey and Queens, as well as piano faculty positions at Usdan Center of Creative and Performing Arts and Point Counterpoint Chamber Music Festival.

Candace also feels passionate about connecting with her audiences. She remarks, “that tingle in your spine, or extra hop in your heart is the moment of music showing the power of experiencing something greater than oneself.  Reaching an audience in this way is my most important mission as an artist.  Of course, I talk about musical elements, teamwork, and inspiration in our performances, because music taught me those things too, but what I hope Music for Autism audiences take away from our concerts together is that sense of safety, belonging, and connection.”

Candace truly embodies the mission of Music For Autism. With each performance, her warmth, energy, and deep connection to her music shines through, and we are so thrilled to add her to a long list of performers who have brought an extra special ray of light and joy to our audiences.

Ryan Gardner, Artist Coordinator for Music For Autism, adds, “We absolutely treasure working with Candance Chien. Not only does she perform so brilliantly, but she is an incredible advocate and supporter of Music for Autism. She is incredibly deserving of this honor.”

During one of her virtual performances, Candace said, “inspiration is all around us.” As we continue to live through an often discouraging and difficult time, we are grateful for artists like Candace who remind us that inspiration can come from anywhere, even when we might not expect it.

“Music for Autism, thank you for honoring me as your Spotlight Artist of 2022,” says Candace. “More importantly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to touch the hearts of the neurodivergent community using the language of music.  I look forward to many more concerts, hugs, and good cheer!”

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