KU ACMI TEAM
Zhengyingyue Huang | Executive Director
Founder, President 2021-2022
Chinese soprano Zhengyingyue (Elaine) Huang has been an apprentice with Russia International Art Festival in Moscow P. I. Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Russia, San Miguel Institute of Bel Canto in Mexico. She also perform several roles in LAH-SOW Minneapolis opera, Crittenden Opera Workshop, and the Landlocked Opera in the U.S.A. Her past roles include Baba in The Medium, Cio-Cio-san in Madama Butterfly, 2nd Witch in Dido and Aeneas, Mutter in Hänsel und Gretel, the second lady in Die Zauberflöte, Mrs. Gobineau in The Medium, and the title role in Suor Angelica. Dr. Huang has participated in a variety of music festivals and competitions and has won top prizes in the Russian International Opera Competition, Minnesota NATS competition, Kansas City Musical Club Miller Scholarship Award, and Charleston International Contemporary Music Competition. In addition to opera, she has been working as a pianist at Tyrolean International Piano Academy, Austria. Dr. Huang is an active member of the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). A new music enthusiast, she has world-premiered the chamber opera Snow Angel which explores the rediscovery and reclamation of personal identity and agency following a sexual assault of the sole female protagonist. As a musician who is passionate about social justice and ethnic diversity, she founded the Asian Classical Music Initiative in 2021. Asian Classical Music Initiative aims to create a platform for the recognition and celebration of the contributions made by Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander classical music composers This organization is focused on presenting diverse musical styles and traditions, including both classical and contemporary genres, to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the rich and varied cultural heritage of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Since its founding in the summer of 2021, KU ACMI has already produced several concerts and hosted two international conferences, which brought together scholars, composers, performers, and music enthusiasts from around the world to share their insights and perspectives on AAAPI classical music. The initiative is also engaged in outreach efforts to raise awareness of AAAPI music and provide educational opportunities for musicians and students who are interested in exploring this genre. Through its various activities, the KU Asian Classical Music Initiative seeks to build bridges between cultures and communities and to foster greater understanding and appreciation of the unique artistic expressions of the AAAPI communities. Dr. Huang holds degrees from East China Normal University (B.A), Temple University (M.M), and the University of Kansas (D.M.A).
Yi-Yang Chen | Faculty Advisor
Yi-Yang Chen shot onto the international stage with back-to-back victories in the 2018Sussex International Piano Competition and in 2017 at the Washington International and the Waring International Piano Competitions in addition to first prize awards at thePacific International Piano Competition and the MTNA National Young Artist Piano Competition. He has also received top prizes at the Hilton Head International PianoCompetition, The American Prize, UNISA International Piano Competition (South Africa), Kerikeri International Piano Competition (New Zealand), Seattle International PianoCompetition, Thailand International Piano Competition, San Jose International PianoCompetition, and the Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford. Mr. Chen has performed on five continents in acclaimed venues including Carnegie Hall and LincolnCenter in New York, Melbourne Recital Centre, National Concert Hall in Taipei, BanffMusic Centre in Canada, ZK Matthews Great Hall in South Africa, and the Assembly Hallin Worthing, UK, and has appeared as soloist with the Worthing Symphony Orchestra, Brevard Music Center Orchestra, Avanti Orchestra, Eastman Philharmonic Orchestra, National Chinese Orchestra, and the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also performed at the Perlman Music Festival, Taos School of Music Summer Chamber Music Festival, Banff Music Centre, Music Academy of the West, Four Seasons WinterWorkshop, and the Brevard Music Center. A native of Taipei, Taiwan, Mr. Chen holds degrees from The Eastman School of Music (DMA, BM) and The Juilliard School (MM) where he studied with Douglas Humphreys, Robert McDonald, and Jerome Lowenthal, in addition to solo/chamber music studies with Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax, and the Shanghai, Cleveland, and Guarneri String Quartets, to name a few. Mr. Chen is an assistant professor of piano at the University of Kansas and is a member of MTNA and the College Music Society as well as Mu Phi Epsilon. At present, Mr. Chen is engaged in a recording project with the Champs Hill label (UK) to be released in 2023.
Dan (Lori) Luo | President
Dan (Lori) Luo, a native from Guangzhou, China, is currently pursuing a DMA degree in piano performance under Dr. Yiyang Chen at the University of Kansas. Her primary teachers have included Steven Spooner and Eric Zuber. As a multifaceted musician, Dan (Lori) holds a Bachelor's degree in Musicology and a Master's degree in Music Pedagogy from Guangzhou University, where she was recognized as first in her major and an honorary graduate. Pursuing her childhood dream of mastering piano performance, she moved to the United States and achieved her second Master's degree in Piano Performance at the University of Kansas. Dan (Lori) has been a prize winner in several international piano competitions, including second place and the AAAPI special award in the 2023 Orbifold Global Music Competition, first place in the 2023 Charleston International Classical Music Competition, second place in the 2022 Asia International Piano Grand Prix, and second place in the 2021 Kansas Music Teachers Association Collegiate Graduate Piano Competition.
Passionate about teaching, Lori has been recognized as an excellent piano instructor at Internationale Deutscher Irmler-Klavierwettbewerb and various other competitions. In the academic realm, she has been actively engaged, delivering a presentation at the 2023 KMTA State Conference, teaching in the MTNA master class, performing at the 2023 Asian Classical Music Initiative International Conference, and presenting her research at several national conferences in China.
In addition to her talent as a pianist, Dan (Lori) is also a researcher in the field of Chinese music education. She has authored five papers, each indexed in the China National Knowledge Infrastructure Database, including the Chinese Social Sciences Citation Index. One of her papers received the second prize in the Fifth China National Research Papers/Articles Competition on Music Pedagogy. Furthermore, one of her papers was acknowledged as a contribution to the Education, Humanities, and Social Science fund projects of the Ministry of Education of China and was subsequently published as part of a monograph. In daily life, Dan (Lori) has a deep love for delicious food. Tasting good food is one of her important mental supports.
Danlei Yang | Vice President
Supporting Member 2021-2023
Danlei Yang, born in Chengdu, China, is pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance with a cognitive area in piano pedagogy under Dr. Scott McBride Smith at KU, where she is a graduate teaching assistant giving piano lessons and accompanying voice and choral conducting studios. She joined the KU Community Music School as director in August 2022. Before studying at KU, she was awarded a full scholarship for her Bachelor of Music degree with Dr. Tamás Ungár at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance and literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was awarded a full-tuition waiver and joined the Piano Laboratory Program as a piano instructor.
During her years at TCU, she studied Piano Pedagogy with Dr. Ann Gipson where she started her teaching experience and became a member of the Music Teachers National Association. As an educator, Ms. Yang devoted her passion to teaching. Her teaching philosophy is to work with the students patiently and be supportive to motivate them in their musical path. As a musician, Ms. Yang is a prize winner in international competitions, including the KMTA Collegiate State Competition (first prize), the Franz Liszt Center International Piano Competition (first prize), Charleston Winter Music Competition (second prize), IPPA Conero International Piano Competition (Honorable Mention), and MTNA piano competition (honorable mention).
Ms. Yang has performed internationally as a soloist and ensemble member, including performances at the Semper Music International Festival in Italy in 2018, the tango ensemble concert in China in 2019, the KU ACMI concert in 2021, the Atlantic Music Festival in 2022, and Artciál International Piano Festival in 2023. In addition, Ms. Yang has performed in many prestigious masterclasses including Yoheved Kaplinsky, Alexader Korsantia, Ian Hobson, Victor Rosenbaum, and more.
Peiyao Yu | Website Director
A pianist and organist based in Kansas , Dr. Peiyao Yu has recently completed her D.M.A. degree in Piano Performance under Dr. Jack Winerock and Dr. Michael Kirkendoll at the University of Kansas. A dedicated advocate for the music of the living composers, Dr. Yu’s dissertation “Out of the Box: Learning and Preparing for From the Same Melancholy Fate by Eve Beglarian” focused on a multi-disciplinary, improvisatory electronic music. In 2018, she soloed with orchestra, performing Tchaikovsky piano concerto No.1, in "Santa Cecilia" Hall, Perugia, Italy. She has also held multiple recitals in both China, USA and Europe. Dr. Yu was the first prize winner at Classical Music Competition of Charleston International Competition and Franz Liszt Center International Piano Competition in 2022. In 2021, she was selected as the Best Schumann Performance and Best Prokofiev Performance in International Music Competitions. Having solidified her expertise in piano, Dr. Yu has now embarked on an exciting new journey exploring the realm of organ performance. Starting in the fall of 2022, she has been pursuing a new Master’s degree in Church Music under Dr. James Higdon.
Dr. Yu received her Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, where she double majored in piano performance and chamber music performance with Dr. Arthur Greene. During her master’s years, She also discovered her talent for the organ with Dr. James Kibbie and was selected to join an interdisciplinary research team headed by Dr. Kibbie and Dr. Daniel Forger from the Department of Mathematics. This collaborative project focused on how the brain processes music, through detailed study of the Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Sonatas (BWV 525-530).
Currently, Dr. Yu works as an Associate Organist in Country Club Christian Church at Kansas City, Missouri. When not devoted into music, she enjoys detective stories, great food and crocheting. Additionally, she serves as the website director of KU’s Asian Classical Music Initiative.
Supporting Member 2021-2022, President 2023 (spring)
Violinist Xiaohui Yan is currently pursuing her DMA in Violin Performance at The University of Kansas. She enjoys a diverse career as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher in the United States, China, and Europe. National appearances have included solo, chamber, and orchestral performances at Sewanee Music Festival, Kansas University Symphony Orchestra, Sewanee Symphony, and Sacramento Youth Symphony Chamber Music Workshop. Internationally she has participated in the 3rd Summer Concert “Let the Dream True” at Vienna, Austria, Tianjin Symphony Orchestra and Tianjin Youth Symphony, and the Guangdong- Zhuhai Music Festival at Zhuhai, China. Originally from China, Ms. Yan holds degrees from The University of Kansas (MM) and Tianjin Conservatory of Music (BM) where she is studying with Professor David Colwell and Qiang Song. During her studies, as a first violin player and second violin principal, she won the Elizabeth & Morton Green Award, Kansas University Symphony Orchestra Scholarship, and many national scholarships.
Vice President 2021-2022
Tiffany Ta grew up in sunny California playing piano duets with her five sisters. She continued studying piano at California State University, Long Beach where she earned a B. M. in Piano Performance and fell in love with music theory. She is now working on an M. M. in Music Theory at the University of Kansas and passing on the love of theory to undergraduates as an instructor of music theory and aural skills. She also serves as the Vice President of the Midwest Music Research Collective, and is working on a thesis project which studies the melodic expectancy of individuals on the autism spectrum. Her research interests include music cognition, ethnomusicology, disability studies, and critical theory. She hopes to ultimately synthesize her love for music research and social justice priorities in order to enact concrete, positive social change.
Luke Helker is a percussionist, educator, and sound engineer currently living in Lawrence, Kansas. He recently obtained his Master’s degree in percussion performance and musicology at the University of Kansas having studied with Dr. Michael Compitello. He is currently pursuing his DMA in percussion performance under the tutelage of Sam Um. He has had the distinguished pleasure of performing with world-renowned percussionists including Andy Akiho, Eriko Daimo, Tony Miceli, She-e Wu, and So Percussion. He was also a contributing member of the Portal Percussion Trio, a chamber percussion ensemble dedicated to sharing the sounds of percussion to a wider audience.
Luke also values music as a vehicle for activism and the creation of new works. He has established Ears to the Earth, an annual concert program that both celebrates music about nature and commissions new works to emphasize current attitudes. For the inaugural concert, Frank Nawrot and Daijana Wallace were commissioned to create new works for percussion and percussion/cello.
Luke’s experience as an educator is expansive, having instructed with several high school marching ensembles, toured with the Jersey Surf Drum & Bugle Corps, founded a high school concert percussion ensemble, and collaborated with non-profit programs to provide after school lessons and clinics to children in Lancaster City. He is extremely fortunate to have worked with some talented students that have gone on to enroll in successful undergraduate programs. He has also been become the first instrumental music instructor for the Bishop Seabury Academy, helping to establish the program alongside the school’s award-winning choral program.