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Yi Chen

Kansas City, MO      

As a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries, Dr. CHEN Yi is the recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. Prof. Chen is Distinguished Endowed Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory since 1998, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2005, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 2019.

Born in China, Ms. Chen has received bachelor and master degrees from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University in the City of New York. Her composition teachers included Wu Zu-qiang, Chou Wen-chung, and Mario Davidovsky. She has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Women’s Philharmonic, Chanticleer, and Aptos Creative Arts Center (93-96) supported by Meet The Composer, and on the composition faculty at Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (96-98). Fellowships and commissioning awards were received from Guggenheim Foundation (96), American Academy of Arts and Letters (96), Fromm Foundation at Harvard University (94), Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress (97), and National Endowment for the Arts (94). Honors include the first prizes from the Chinese National Composition Competition (85, 12), the Lili Boulanger Award (93), the NYU Sorel Medal Award (96), the CalArts/Alpert Award (97), the UT Eddie Medora King Composition Prize (99), the ASCAP Concert Music Award (01), the Elise Stoeger Award (02) from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Friendship Ambassador Award from Edgar Snow Fund (02), the UMKC Kauffman Award in Artistry/Scholarship and Faculty Service (06, 12, 19), and Finalist of Pulitzer Prize in Music (06). Honorary Doctorates are from Lawrence University (02), Baldwin-Wallace College (08), University of Portland (09), The New School University (10), and the University of Hartford (16). She has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at Beijing Central Conservatory (06-11) and Tianjin Conservatory (12-17) in China.

Chen Yi’s music is published by Theodore Presser Company, performed world wide, and recorded on Bis, New Albion, CRI, Teldec (w/ Grammy Award for Colors of Love), New World (w/ NPR Top 10 Classical Music Album Award for Sound of the Five), Albany, Naxos, BMOP/sound, Delos, Angel, Nimbus, Bridge, Cala, Avant, Atma, Hugo, Koch International Classics, Centaur, Eroica, Capstone, Quartz, Oehms, Etcetera, Navona, Cedille, Innova, XAS, XUAR, Usk, Cavalli, AMP, Mark, Con Brio, Tonar, Equilibrium, Paradisum, Soundbrush, Profil, OUR, Solfa, Luminescence, Cavi-Music, Chanticleer Records, Decca Classics, and China Record Co. among others.

* Chen is family name, Yi is personal name. Chen Yi can be referred to Dr. Chen, Prof. Chen, Ms. Chen, or Chen Yi, but not Dr. Yi, Prof. Yi, or Ms. Yi.

Spring Dreams for mixed choir performed by Chanticleer

Chen Yi’s Spring Dreams (1997), A poem by Meng Hao-ran (689-740, Tang Dynasty), for SATB mixed choir, sung in Chinese. Commissioned by the Ithaca College School of Music for the Ithaca College Choral Series, it’s premiered by Ithaca College Choir, directed by Prof. Lawrence Doebler on Saturday, Nov. 15, 1997. It’s recorded on the album “Chanticleer By Request” [Chanticleer Records CR2284]. The poem:
Spring dreams unconscious of dawning,
Not woke up till I hear birds singing;
O night long wind and showers —
Know you how many petals falling?

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The Points for pipa solo performed by Yu JIa

Commissioned by the New York New Music Consort for the NEWworksOCTOBER series at Columbia University, Chen Yi’s The Points (1991) received its world premiere on October 17, 1991, in New York, performed by pipa soloist Wu Man. The eight standard strokes in Chinese calligraphy start with the points in different touches. The structure of “The Points” comes from the eight brush stroke movements of the Chinese character “yong” (eternal) in Zhengkai calligraphy; the melodic material comes from Shaanxi opera. The tuning is changed to #A-#D-E-A.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Headlines November 5 2019 | By Yi Chen and Long Zhou
Truly a Wenren—Remembering Chou Wen-chung (1923-2019)

Chou Wen-chung is a music giant who mentored us in our creative lives for decades. He has made a huge contribution to the music of our time, yet he is...