As a Distinguished Professor at the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, a prolific composer, and recipient of the Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Dr. CHEN YI* blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Her music has reached a wide range of audiences and inspired peoples of different cultural backgrounds throughout the world. She holds a BA and MA in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and a DMA from Columbia University in New York City, studying 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.
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, Seattle, Pacific, Kansas City, and Singapore Symphonies, the Brooklyn, NY, and LA Philharmonic, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Her music has also been recorded on many labels, including Bis, New Albion, CRI, Teldec, Telarc, Albany, New World, Naxos, Quartz, Delos, Angel, Bridge, Nimbus, KIC, and China Record Company.
Dr. Chen has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (1996) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1994), as well as the Lieberson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1996). Other honors include first prize from the Chinese National Composition Contest (85), Lili Boulanger Award (93), NYU Sorel Medal Award (96), CalArts / Alpert Award (97), UT Eddie Medora King Composition Prize (99), ASCAP Concert Music Award (01), Elise Stoeger Award (02) from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Friendship Ambassador Award from Edgar Snow Fund (02), UMKC Kauffman Award in Artistry/Scholarship (06, 19) and in Faculty Service (12), and Honorary Doctorates from Lawrence University in WI (02), Baldwin-Wallace College in OH (08), University of Portland in OR (09), the New School University in NYC (10), and the University of Hartford in CT (16).
Recent premieres include Plum Blossom for piano solo at the Fifth Hong Kong International Piano Competition by 15 semi-finalists at HK City Hall Concert Hall in October 2019, a three-movement symphonic work Introduction, Andante, and Allegro (co-commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra directed by Ludovic Morlot and Los Angeles Philharmonic directed by Gustavo Dudamel) by the SSO at Benaroya Hall in Seattle on 2/6/2019; Fire for 12 players (commissioned by Chicago Center for Contemporary Music) by Grossman Ensemble at Logan Center Performance Hall in University of Chicago on 3/15/2019; a symphonic work Pearle River Overture (commissioned by Guangzhou Symphony) in Xinghai Concert Hall in Guangzhou, China on 11/22/2018; Four Spirits for piano and orchestra, commissioned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and premiered at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, China on November 18, 2016 and at the Memorial Hall in the Carolina Performing Arts (CPA), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on December 8, 2016 by the China Philharmonic Orchestra, with piano soloist Clara Yang, conducted by Huang Yi and Yu Long respectively; Southern Scenes for flute, pipa, and orchestra (with Barlow Commission Award) premiered by the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra in Honolulu (with soloists Linda Chatterton and Gao Hong, conducted by JoAnn Falletta) on Jan. 7, 2018; Totem Poles for organ solo commissioned and premiered at the American Guild of Organists national conference in Kansas City by Prof. James Higdon on July 3, 2018; Happy Tune for violin and viola commissioned and premiered at the Great Lake Chamber Music Festival 25th anniversary concert by Tien-Hsin Cindy Wu and Kim Kashkashian on June 16, 2018; Feng II and Suite from China West for saxophone ensembles premiered at the 18th World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb, Croatia on July 12, 2018; Ge Xu for orchestra by New Jersey Symphony and LA Philharmonic conducted by Zhang Xian; Chinese Folk Dance Suite for violin and orchestra performed on Guangzhou Symphony Youth Orchestra European tour (solo by Gao Can and conducted by Jing Huan) in Lyon, Prague, and at Musica Riva Festival in Italy; Ballad, Dance, and Fantasy for cello and orchestra by the China National Symphony at the 2018 Beijing Modern Music Festival and ISCM World Music Days (solo by Qin Li-wei and conducted by Yongyan Hu) at the CNCPA in Beijing.
A strong advocate of new music, American composers, Asian composers, and women in music, Dr. Chen Yi has served on the advisory or educational board of the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard, the John Simon 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), music educators and students through her tireless work over the past three decades.
Prof. Chen was appointed to the prestigious Cheungkong Scholar Visiting Professor at the Central Conservatory by the China Education Ministry in 2006 where she was instrumental in establishing the first Beijing International Composition Workshop, and the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Tianjin Conservatory in 2012. Through her professorship in the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City and Peabody Conservatory, John Hopkins University since 1996, as well as composition lectures and workshops, judging composition competitions, residences in new music festivals, performing arts organizations, universities, colleges, middle/high schools, and primary schools throughout the States and China, Prof. Chen has made significant contribution to the music education field. Many of her composition students have been recognized around the world with national and international composition awards and professional positions.
Dr. Chen Yi is a cultural ambassador who has introduced hundreds of new music compositions and a large number of musicians from the East and the West to music and education exchange programs in the US, Germany, the UK, and Asian countries, particularly in recent years through programs of the Beijing Modern Music Festival, the Beijing International Composition Workshop (BICW), the Shanghai Spring Festival, the Tianjin May Festival, the China-ASEAN Music Week, the symphony orchestras throughout China and some other Asian countries, and the Thailand International Composition Festival, among many others. 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.
Chen Yi, Composer ---- 2022 Keynote Speaker
Ke-Chia Chen, Composer ---- 2022 Commission Composer
Photo credit to Tey Tat Keng
Ke-Chia Chen's compositions have been performed by leading orchestras, chamber ensembles, and soloists throughout the world. She has fused her inspirations from Western and Asian classical traditions into a unique personal voice that speaks directly to listeners of either heritage.
Her music has been programmed by presenters and organizations including Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Florida's Naples Philharmonic, the Taiwan Philharmonic, Philadelphia’s WHYY radio, and the Delaware Symphony Orchestra's Miles of Manuscript music series.
Among those commissioning works from Chen are the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Taiwan Philharmonic, the Taipei Wind Orchestra & Symphonic Band, Curtis Institute of Music, Network for New Music, New Asia Chamber Music Society, and Taipei Percussion.
Collaborating with Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra on several projects, Chen orchestrated the music for their 2015 Papal Mass and 69th UN General Assembly session performances. Other notable collaborators include Teddy Abrams, music director of the Louisville Orchestra; Joshua Gersen, former assistant conductor of the New York Philharmonic and music director of the New York Youth Symphony; Lio Kuokman, resident conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra; Radu Paponiu, associate conductor of the Naples Philharmonic; Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center violinists Ida Kavafian and Bella Hristova; violist and Juilliard faculty member Toby Appel; Jennifer Montone, principal horn of the Philadelphia Orchestra; and musicians from the Marlboro Festival, Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Chen's Broken Crystal, a winner of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's prestigious Marilyn K. Glick Young Composer Award, was hailed by the Indianapolis Star as a work "orchestrated with lavish self-confidence and resourcefulness" which "made a coherent whole out of its pattern of abrupt contrasts, crowned by a broad, stunningly accented 'maestoso' episode." The work was selected in 2015 as a finalist in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra's Elaine Lebenbon Memorial Award competition. Chen’s The Silent Flame was awarded first prize in the 2016 International Horn Society Composition Contest.
Chen has been engaged as Artist-in-residence with the Copland House Residency Award, Ucross Foundation, Ensemble 212, Concerts on the Slope, Colorado College Summer Music Festival, Music at Angel Fire Chamber Music Festival, and has held composer fellowships at the Aspen, Pacific, and Bowdoin Music Festivals.
Ke-Chia Chen is on the Musical Studies faculty at the Curtis Institute of Music. She holds degrees from Curtis and Manhattan School of Music, and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
John Frantzen, Composer ---- Guest Composer
John Frantzen’s dynamic and distinctive style has earned high praise from audiences throughout the United States and abroad. Performed at esteemed venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Memorial, Jordan Hall, China’s Shanxi Television Station Concert Hall and the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Frantzen’s commission highlights include the Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Manhattan School of Music, Oakwood Chamber Players, New York City’s Corpus Christi Choir, South Shore Conservatory, University of Central Florida, and the Nashua Chamber Orchestra. Under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned John to co-orchestrate and arrange the music for their performance with the 400-member Papal Choir during the Papal Mass on Benjamin Parkway. Multi-media art exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, Figge Art Museum, State Historical Museum of Iowa, and the Dubuque Museum of Art featured his music and sound design. Frantzen has been awarded artist residencies at the Millay Colony for the Arts, the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.
Frantzen’s honors and awards include prizes in the 2nd International Frank Ticheli Composition Competition, the Penfield Music Commission Project, eighteen ASCAPlus Awards, special mention in the Ridgewood Symphony Fanfare Competition, and finalist in the G. Schirmer Young American’s Band Competition. The American Composer Forum, the Iowa Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts awarded grants for several of his multi-media projects. His orchestra work Beyond a Wild Dream has been featured five times on Performance Today, America’s most popular classical music program. Published by Manhattan Beach Music, Theodore Presser, Murphy Music Press and ECS Publishing he currently resides in metropolitan Chicago where he operates his music production company Frantzen MusicPress.