Short biography:

Irfan's orchestral piece, Keraian, premiered by the New York Philharmonic.
Irfan performs Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2 & world premiere of the award-winning Sahibul Hikayat Fantasy Overture - with Claus Peter Flor for the 2013-14 Season Opening & 15th Anniversary Gala Concert of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra.
First-prize winner of the Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2 Competition at the Aspen Music Festival 2013.

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2 in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi during the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra tour of Vietnam October-November 2013.

Tengku Irfan with Maestro Neeme Järvi & Estonian National Symphony Orchestra 2011
Tengku Irfan with Maestro Claus Peter Flor & Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra
Season Opening Gala Concert 2009
Tengku Ahmad Irfan, 16 year old Malaysian, started his piano lessons at age 7 and developed an interest in composing shortly after that. He started composing piano pieces and later branched out with chamber pieces and larger orchestral works.

His debut major performance was at age 11, as a soloist performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto in E flat (WoO4) with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of music director Claus Peter Flor, when he improvised his own cadenzas for all three movements. He continued to improvise his own cadenzas during subsequent performances of Mozart Piano Concerto No. 8 with Claus Peter Flor and Mozart Piano Concerto No. 27 with Dariusz Mikulski and the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra.

With Maestro Dariusz Mikulski & Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra 2010

Third performance with Claus Peter Flor 2011
Amongst his other onstage improvisation was in 2010, when he improvised on the piano to music simultaneously improvised by Neeme Järvi and the orchestra, at an event jointly organised by the International Arbo Valdma Summer Master Class for Pianists and Neeme Järvi International Master Class for Conductors.

In 2011, he reteamed with Neeme Järvi to perform Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and later, with the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra to perform Mozart Piano Concerto No. 7 for three pianos and Bach Concerto for two pianos BWV1062 for its 2011/2012 Season Opening Gala Concert.

At the Aspen Music Festival 2012, Irfan performed a four-hand piano concert with Yoheved Kaplinsky, where he learned and performed a repertoire previously unknown to him in mere two days upon being called at short notice to replace Choong Mo Kang, who injured his hand just before the concert.
Yoheved Kaplinsky & Irfan, Aspen Music Festival 2012

He is also often chosen to premier new compositions (in performances and studio recordings) due to his speed and ease in learning new and demanding repertoire, and also for his interpretation of composers’ works.

As the first prize winner in the Aspen Music Festival 2013 Prokofiev Piano Concerto No.2 Competition, Irfan performed with the American Academy of Conducting at Aspen (AACA) Orchestra, under the baton of Nathan Aspinall, Lee Mills & Gemma New.

Aspen Contemporary Ensemble led by Sydney Hodkinson

In 2014, Irfan was chosen as resident pianist for the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, led by composer/conductor Sydney Hodkinson. Irfan's chamber performances include with Esther Heideman, Edgar Meyer, Bruce Bransby and Nikolas Nägele.

Irfan performed a solo recital at the la Virée classique 2014 Festival on invitation from Kent Nagano, Music Director of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. 

He recently performed Olivier Messiaen’s Oiseaux exotiques with the acclaimed AXIOM ensemble, led by its founder Jeffrey Milarsky.

Irfan won both the 2012 ASCAP Morton Gould Award and the 2012 Charlotte Bergen Award for his ‘String Quartet’. His orchestral piece Sahibul Hikayat Fantasy Overture won the 2014 ASCAP Morton Gould Award.

His composition, an orchestral piece titled 'Keraian', was recently premiered by the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall, with Case Scaglione conducting.

He has performed on popular classical music radio programs 'From the Top'  (when he was introduced by Emanuel Ax), and WGBH Classical New England's 'Drive Time Live'.

In 2013, Irfan with the Juilliard Pre-College Symphony performed John Corigliano's 'Gazebo Dances', Bartók's 'Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta' and Stravinsky's 'Firebird (1945)' under the baton of George Stelluto.

His other compositions which have been premiered in New York include ‘Twelve-Tone Variations’ (piano), ‘Vier Miniaturen’ (clarinet & piano), ‘Introduction and March’ (trumpet & piano), ‘Symphony No.1’ (full orchestra), ‘Nocturne’ (string orchestra), 'Suite for Wind Quartet', 'Melody' (violin & piano) and 'Moment Musical No.2' (bassoon & harp). Irfan's choral piece 'Tragedi Dewi Suria' was recently premiered by choral conductor Harold Rosenbaum and the New York Virtuoso Singers.

Amongst the venues worldwide which he has performed include the Central Music School of the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (Kuala Lumpur), Nokia Concert Hall (Estonia), Pärnu Concert Hall (Estonia), The Benedict Music Tent (Aspen), Harris Hall (Aspen), Ho Chi Minh City Opera House (Vietnam), Hanoi Opera House (Vietnam), Peter Jay Sharp Theater (Lincoln Center, New York), Merkin Concert Hall (Lincoln Center, New York), Hong Kong and Washington DC.

Irfan is currently in Juilliard Pre-College taking up double major in piano and composition under Yoheved Kaplinsky and Ira Taxin respectively, and also studying conducting with George Stelluto. He is a High Honors high school student at the Professional Children's School.



(Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2)...He exhibited superb technique along with great subtlety and a wonderfully varied tonal palette... May 2014

…now, all of 15, he calmly took on a work (Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2) that has left many older and more experienced pianists nervous… he displayed the witted lyricism that seemed to have eluded many performances of the concerto…this was a dynamic and memorable performance…
The Star, August 2013

"...if any of you young pianists or professionals ever need a good reason to give up piano altogether, you can go and see the youtube clip that we first fell in love with: Irfan's playing of Elliott Carter's virtuostic, demonic piece, 'Caténaires'..."
Christopher O'Riley, 2013

…the piano prodigy raced through the 31-minute long piece (Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2) with a keen bravado well beyond his years… the smiley 15-year-old blew audience members away with his dexterous and heartfelt performance…
New Straits Times, August 2013
 “...much of the reason for the sold out crowd followed with the performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor Opus 11 by the 13 year old Tengku...he played wonderfully; the sublime passages of Chopin flowed melodiously and with apparent ease...” 
ERR News July 2011

“...he (Tengku Irfan) knows all the Mahler is just play to him...he is not (just) a child playing piano, he is an artist...”
Neeme Järvi, 2010

(Translation): “There was a totally extraordinary experience in Parnu Concert Hall offered by the UENSO Orchestra and a 12 year old pianist from Malaysia, Tengku Ahmad Irfan...There are not many child prodigies who have nimble fingers and skilfully reproduce musical ideas . But Tengku Ahmad Irfan is totally different. This young man was able to deliver the rhythmic accuracy and a multitude of sounds when performing the Mozart Piano Concerto No.27. The fundamentals of rhythm, phrasing and tone colour was delivered as if one is speaking or breathing. The resulting sound was quite similar to what may be experienced in a Murray Perahia, Andras Schiff or Paul Lewis concert. When Irfan and Maestro Järvi improvised with the orchestra and also performed an encore of the Larghetto, it was shown how two talented musicians who are separated by 60 years of age difference can communicate to each other with the same language.”IMPRESIOONID October 2010

“His (Irfan’s) performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.8 on Sunday was, in every way, a truly self-assured one: impeccable in tempo, richly expressive and always alert to witty exchanges with the orchestra. He even performed his own cadenzas for the concerto and topped it off with an impromptu composition at the keyboard as an encore!...Amazingly, Tengku Ahmad nailed it (Chopin’s Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante), with fluid, almost insouciant, playing... his fingerwork was dazzling and heartfelt, literally transporting listeners to Chopin’s world.” 
The Star January 2011

(Translation): "…Mozart’s final piano concerto is not easy to perform, moreover for a child, especially the Allegro Larghetto, in terms of the form and secondly technically. But what we see is a level of maturity which is difficult to be believed. The boy whose legs can barely touch the pedals takes on the performance before a huge audience without the slightest impairment. He was not at all affected by the change of conductors throughout the whole piano concerto. But the extraordinary happened when conductor Neeme Järvi took over for the Mozart Larghetto. The maestro, a born musician showed a real synergy between him and Irfan which resulted in what was truly worthy of Mozart. Irfan’s proficiency is again demonstrated during the improvisation with the orchestra, with the musical result reminiscent of Rachmaninoff’s styling…"  
SIRP August 2010


Tengku Irfan improvisation with Maestro Neeme Järvi (2010)