Felicia Chen is a dynamic vocalist and improviser with an affinity for contemporary sound art. Through her fearless approach toward the creation and interpretation of new works, Felicia eschews boundaries that limit the definition of music. Praised by The Boston Musical Intelligencer for creating "siren-like sounds that explored extremes of the vocal range," Felicia employs a wide arsenal of extended techniques ranging from vocal percussion to multiphonic singing. A firm believer that classical music can be a catalyst for social commentary and change, Felicia frequently collaborates with composers, musicians, and poets whose voices are underrepresented in the field.
In 2018, Felicia brings PAN – a mass community participation theatrical work by Marcos Balter, featuring flutist Claire Chase – to Chicago, where she will teach the music and staging to community youth participants from Chicago West Community Music Center and The People’s Music School. With her duo Mazumal, a voice and cello partnership which programs new works championing diversity, Felicia will be in residence at CUNY Hunter College and Boston Conservatory, leading workshops on educating young artists on civic engagement and inclusive dialogue in contemporary music. Felicia is the co-founder of the Boston New Music Calendar, a resource that aims to bring cohesiveness to the greater Boston-area contemporary music community, and she presented on the calendar at the 2018 New Music Gathering.
More recently, Felicia was a vocal performance fellow at the 2018 Nief-Norf Summer Festival, performing works in conjunction with conference topic: New Asia, which highlights composers of Asian heritage. Felicia returned to the Banff Centre for a second residency exploring improvisation and experimental techniques for the voice and, with Mazumal, held residencies and performances at the University of Hartford, UC Berkeley’s CNMAT, Cortona Sessions for New Music, and Boston Sculptors Gallery’s Second Sunday Concert Series. Felicia made her debut with Black Sheep Contemporary Ensemble, performing an adventurous program of Georges Aperghis works.
Her 2017-2018 season included premieres of works by Kaley Lane Eaton, Bahar Royaee, Eden Rayz, and Andrew Harlan; faculty recitals at Berklee College of Music and Boston Conservatory - performing works by Marti Epstein, Curtis Hughes, and Jonathan Bailey Holland; and George Crumb's complete Madrigals with KITA duo.
Felicia's past seasons has encompassed monumental works from influential composers of the last century, including two performances of Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire (Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Conservatory), Druckman’s Animus II, Babbitt’s Philomel, and Ligeti’s Aventures (Berklee Words and Music Festival). At Boston Conservatory, Felicia was a core member of the institution's Contemporary Music Ensemble, performing numerous chamber and solo works by prominent contemporary composers. Felicia was featured as a soloist in the New Music Festival for both years of her graduate degree, singing Crumb’s American Songbook I with the Boston Conservatory Percussion Ensemble, and Muhly's Object Songs in performance and a masterclass with the composer.
Felicia was a 2017 resident artist at the Banff Centre, as part of the Improviser’s View of Notated Music, where she further explored extended vocal techniques through improvisation, graphic scores, and cross-discipline collaboration. Felicia was also in residence at Fresh Inc Festival, where she performed Dai Fujikura's being as one, alongside Georges Aperghis' Sept Crimes de l'Amour.
In 2016, Felicia was the sole vocal fellow in the inaugural year of the Contemporary Performance Institute at Composers Conference. Under the direction of acclaimed cellist Fred Sherry, Felicia performed excerpts from Pierrot Lunaire and Currier’s Vocalissimus, in addition to chamber works by Berio, Carter, and Sheng. Felicia also held residencies at soundSCAPE Music Festival and the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (SICPP) at New England Conservatory. That same year, Felicia made her solo debut with the DuBois Orchestra at Harvard University (in Fanny Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang) and with Chimera New Music, performing a program of works by Scelsi, Carter, and Babbitt.
Felicia was a guest artist with Celli@Berkeley, with whom she performed Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, and premiered Jared Redmond’s Deep Song. Written for Felicia and 12 cellos, the piece is featured on the ensemble’s debut album. Felicia has been a frequent soloist with her alma mater, UC Berkeley, including performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass, Handel’s Messiah, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Felix Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang Symphony-Cantata, and Purcell’s Dioclesian.
Felicia’s primary mentors are Claire Chase, Lucy Shelton, and Tony Arnold. Felicia is a recipient of the UC Berkeley Alfred Hertz Memorial Traveling Fellowship, which enabled her to study with Ms. Shelton in New York. Felicia holds degrees from Boston Conservatory, where she was a part of the inaugural class of the Contemporary Music Performance graduate program, and the University of California at Berkeley.