Born in Guangzhou, China, Dr. CHEN YI* transcends musical and cultural boundaries in her blending of Chinese and Western traditions. She holds a BA and an MA in Composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and a DMA from Columbia University, and has studied composition with Wu Zuqiang, Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2019. She has taught at the Peabody Conservatory and currently holds a professorship at the University of Missouri Kansas City, where she has been on faculty since 1998.
Dr. Chen’s music has been performed and commissioned by the world’s leading musicians and ensembles, including Yehudi Menuhin, Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, the Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC and Singapore Symphony Orchestras, the Seattle, Pacific, and Kansas City Symphonies, the Brooklyn, NY, and LA Philharmonics, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Her music has also been recorded on many labels based in the US, Europe, and Asia, including Naxos, Albany, Teldec, and the China Record Company, among others.
Chen has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lieberson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Charles Ives Living Prize, First Prize in the Chinese National Composition Contest, The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center's Stoeger Prize, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Award, the Herb Alpert Award, the Eddie Medora King Award, and the Nissim Prize.
A strong advocate for new music, American composers, Asian composers, and women in music, Chen Yi has served on the advisory or educational board of the Fromm Foundation, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Chamber Music America, Meet The Composer, the American Music Center, New Music USA, the American Composers Orchestra, the League of Composers/ISCM, the International Alliance of Women in Music, and the Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy. She has supported many composers, conductors, musicians (including dozens of excellent performers on Chinese traditional instruments), educators, and students through her tireless work over the past three decades.
Prof. Chen was appointed to a Cheung Kong Scholar Visiting Professorship at the Central Conservatory in Beijing by China’s Ministry of Education in 2006, where she established the first Beijing International Composition Workshop, and later to a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at the Tianjin Conservatory. Through her academic positions, lectures, workshops, residences with arts organizations, and collegiate and pre-collegiate institutions throughout the United States and China, Dr. Chen has made significant contributions to the field of music education. Many of her students have been recognized around the world with national and international composition awards and professorships.
Dr. Chen is a cultural ambassador who has introduced hundreds of new compositions and a large number of musicians from the East and the West to music and educational exchange programs in the US, the UK, Germany, and Asian countries through programs including the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Beijing International Composition Workshop, the Shanghai Spring Festival, the Tianjin May Festival, the China-ASEAN Music Festival, and the Thailand International Composition Festival. She believes that music is a universal language, improving understanding between peoples of different cultural backgrounds and helping to bring peace in the world.
* Chen is family name, Yi is personal name. Chen Yi can be referred to as Dr. Chen, Prof. Chen, Ms. Chen, or Chen Yi, but not Dr. Yi, Prof. Yi, or Ms. Yi.