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Yi, Chen (4th April 1953-Present)

She is a composer, arranger and violinist born in Guangzhou, Guangdong, China who became one of the first women at the Central Conservatory of Arts in Bejing to receive a Master of Arts.  Coming from a musical family her father was a doctor and violinist, her mother a doctor and pianist, and her sister and brother are also musicians with her sister being a child prodigy.

She began to learn the piano and the works of composers such as Mozart and Bach when she was just three years old but everything has to stop when she was 13 as the Cultural Revolution began.  Determined to keep playing as long as she could she hid in the town after her father and sister had been sent away and used a mute to play her violin and stuffed blankets in the piano to keep the sound muffled.  She hung out until she was 15 when the house was searched, the things she owned removed and her and her family sent to the country to carry out compulsory labour.  She did not waste her time in the country though and learned about Chinese folk traditions that would be beneficial for her in future compositions.

She returned to her hometown when she was 17 and before long she was the concertmaster of the Beijing Opera Troupe Orchestra.  In 1977 she enrolled in the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music and in 1986 she travelled to the United States to take further education in music and remained in New York City where she studied composition at Columbia University.

During the 1990s she was seen as composer-in-residence with the choral group Chanticleer among several others.

She married the composer Zhou Long and in 2006 they both became Professors of Composition at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Her compositions are many and include three symphonies, “Arirang”, “Sakura” and other Chinese works, Ballad, Dance and Fantasy, The Golden Flute, Suite for Cello and Chamber Winds, KC Cappricio, Chinese Myths Cantata, Woodwind Quintet and many other choral and chamber works.  Recordings of her music include The Music of Chen Yi, Sparkleand Momentum.  In 2001 she was honoured with the Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and that same year she received the ASCAP Concert Music Award.

Chanticleer recordings
Teldec 16676 (CD: Wondrous Love: A World Folk Song Collection)
Arranger – Chen Yi