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Rachel C. Walker


Rachel C. Walker writes poetic, timbre-sensitive works drawing from her ongoing immersion in and research on Chinese folk music, musical time, and language. Her pieces have been heard across the US, China, Sweden, Portugal, Canada, and Australia, with major performances and commissions from the Tianjin Symphony Orchestra (天津交响乐团), Svensk Musikvår, NANOWorks Opera, Departure Duo, percussionists Allen Otte and Zhang Yongyun (张永韵), the Butter Quartet (NL), recorder player Sylvia Hinz, and pipa virtuoso Xia Yuyan (夏雨言).

As the recipient of multiple grants to China and Taiwan, she has studied and written about traditional and contemporary music, while simultaneously composing dynamic new works for Chinese and Western instruments. Her writings have been published by NewMusicBox and Southwest China Normal University Press, as well as presented in guest lectures at Harvard University (2016 Perspectives on Chinese Contemporary Music Conference), Australian National University (2017 Women in the Creative Arts Conference), Tsinghua University (2018), Shandong University (2018), and the China Conservatory (2015).

Her work has been supported by ArtsWave, Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, the University of Cincinnati Research Council Undergraduate Research Fellowship, and the Marshall M. Williams Endowment at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity. In 2015, she co-founded the concert series Cincinnati Soundbox; as its co-artistic director over the course of its four seasons, she curated concerts blending the new music scene in Cincinnati with those of other cities around the world.

Rachel studied at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music with Allen Otte and Joel Hoffman, and at the China Conservatory of Music (中国音乐学院), where she was a Visiting Scholar advised by Gao Weijie (高为杰). She was a 2018 Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Photo by Xia Yuyan
Updated May 2019

空 Void

For solo pipa (琵琶弹唱). Written for and performed by Xia YuYan 夏雨言.

March 2018, Beijing.

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Performed by Madeleine Jonsson Gille, soprano, & My Hellgren, cello. Text by Kendall A.

Svensk Musikvår
March 2017, Kungliga Operan, Stockholm.

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the impression remains

Performed by Li Yi Fan, sheng; Rachel C. Walker, toy piano; Zhu Jiang Yang, yangqin; and Alexander Colding Smith, conductor.

June 2018, Beijing.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles July 30 2018 | By Rachel C. Walker
The Importance of Exchange

There is very little effort made to bridge the gap in cultural understanding. This is where the intersection of Chinese traditional music and new music has the potential to play...

Articles July 23 2018 | By Rachel C. Walker
Poetry and Community in Guangzhou

Upon returning from my first stay in China in 2016, I began to seek out works by living Chinese writers in order to help enrich my understanding of the country...

Articles July 16 2018 | By Rachel C. Walker
An Introduction to the Chinese Bamboo Flute Orchestra

In its five years of existence, the Chinese Bamboo Flute Orchestra (中国竹笛乐团) founded by Zhang Weiliang (张维良), has done substantial work. It has commissioned and promoted the music of living...

See more of Rachel C. Walker's articles on NewMusicBox.