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Zhengyingyue (Elaine) Huang | President

Chinese soprano Zhengyingyue (Elaine) Huang is currently pursuing her DMA in Voice Performance at The University of Kansas under professor Joyce Castle.  She 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.  Ms. 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 the pianist in Tyrolean International Piano Academy, Austria. Ms. 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 that explores 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 KU Asian Classical Music Initiative in 2021, an academic music conference design to bring awareness to the world of AAAPI classical music composers through concerts and conferences. Ms. Huang serves on the board of Asian Opera Alliance, KU School of Music DEIB committees, and Friend of Lied Center. 

Yi-Yang Chen | Faculty Advisor

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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.

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Tiffany Ta | Vice President

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 | Program Coodinator

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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.  

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Danlei Yang | Staff

Danlei Yang, born in Chengdu, China, is currently pursuing a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in Piano Performance under Dr. Scott McBride Smith at KU, where she is a graduate teaching assistant giving private piano lessons and group classes. Prior to studying at KU, she was awarded a full scholarship for her Bachelor of Music degree study with Dr. Tamás Ungár at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She holds a Master of Music degree in piano performance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was awarded with a full-tuition wavier 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 Music Teachers National Association. As a musician, Ms. Yang has performed internationally as a soloist and ensemble member, including the performances at Semper Music International Festival in Italy in 2018, the tango ensemble concert in China in 2019, and KU ACMI concert in 2021. 

As an educator, Ms. Yang devoted her passion in teaching. Her teaching philosophy is to work with the students patiently and be supportive to motivate them in their musical path.

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Xiaohui Yan | Staff

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.

Peiyao Yu | Website Director

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Peiyao Yu began playing the piano at the age of five. 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 China, USA and Europe. In terms of being a collaborative pianist, Peiyao was selected twice into the chamber music series held in Bloomfield township public library which were broadcasted on local TV. She also took part in the recital series featuring the premier of new art songs created by KU composers. She was selected to participate in Shanghai International Piano Festival & Institute in China and Music Festival Perugia in Italy. Peiyao was the first prize winner at International Music Competitions in 2021 for Best Schumann Performance and Best Prokofiev Performance. Her Vessel Duo was a laureate at Charleston International Music Competition. In addition, she was also the recipient of the Yamaha Music Scholarship and won Yangtze River Piano cup Youth Piano Competition in 2015.

Peiyao is now pursuing her Doctoral degree of piano performance at the University of Kansas under the guidance of Dr. Jack Winerock and Dr. Michael Kirkendoll. She also holds a masters degree with Dr. Arthur Greene at the University of Michigan. During her master years, she double majored in both piano performance and chamber music performance. She also discovered her talent on organ with Dr. James Kibbie and Dr. James Higdon and was specially selected to join a unique, interdisciplinary research focusing on analyzing how data science can interpret music during master years. In addition, she had performed in many prestigious masterclasses including Boris Slutsky, Robert McDonald, Gila Goldstein and Jerome Lowenthal and more. When not devoted into music, Peiyao enjoys detective stories, great food and crocheting.