Creative thinking means a recital by popular young New Zealand pianist Tony Chen Lin is going ahead on Sunday - in a funeral home rather than a concert chamber.

Chen Lin's lively return to Whangārei will take place at Newberry's Funeral home in Kamo Rd.

Whangarei Music Society usually presents its concerts at the Old Library in Rust Ave, using the Kawai piano it fundraised to buy 10 years ago. The society was mortified when it realised that venue was booked out for the Northland performing arts competitions.

"It was a bit of an own goal really – we didn't book early enough," president Lois Williams said.

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"But I'd been to a couple of funerals at Newberrys over summer that featured music, and thought it would make a great concert venue. It's a lovely setting with good acoustics and a stage and a very good piano."

WMS broached the idea with the owners with some trepidation.

"We were thinking maybe a concert wouldn't fit their vision for their building but they loved the idea and very generously invited us to use it. Problem solved – and we are most grateful!"

The concert on Sunday marks Chen Lin's first return tour to New Zealand since he left for Europe to further his studies.

The talented teenager who won the prestigious Kerikeri International Piano Competition sonata award in 2008 is now a mature and accomplished artist and composer, based in Budapest.

As well as an accomplished player he has earned a reputation as a teacher, conductor and composer.

After receiving his bachelor of music in piano performance and composition with Péter Nagy and Gao Ping at Canterbury University in 2009, he moved to Europe where he completed his masters under Gilead Mishory and Andreas Immer at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany. He studied with Balázs Szokolay, who continues to be an important mentor, at the Liszt Academy in Budapest.

Chen Lin's debut solo album Digressions was released last year and topped the RNZ Classical Chart. His Whangarei recital, presented in association with Chamber Music New Zealand, will feature works by Beethoven, Bartok and Schumann.

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Tony Chen Lin, Newberrys, Kamo Rd, Whangārei Sunday, at 2.30pm. Music Society members $25; non-members $35, school children under-18 free.