Chen Yi (b. April 4, 1953, Guangzhou) is a Chinese-born American composer of orchestral, chamber, choral, and piano works that have been performed throughout the world.
Ms. Chen began violin and piano studies with Zheng Ri-hua and Li Su-xin at age three, but the Cultural Revolution interrupted her musical progress in 1966. She later studied composition with Wu Zu-qiang at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing from 1978-86, where she earned her MA, as the first Chinese woman to receive this degree in music. She then studied composition with Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky at Columbia University from 1986-93 and there earned her DMA with distinction. She was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Lawrence University in 2002.
Among her many honors in China are First Prize in a national competition in China (1985, for Duo Ye), First Prize in the composition competition of a children's piano competition in Beijing (1985, for Yu Diao) and First Prize in a traditional music competition of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing (1986, for Xie Zi). Her honors in the USA include the Lili Boulanger Award from the Women's Philharmonic and the NEA Composer Fellowship (both 1994), as well as the Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Sorel Medal for Excellence in Music from the Center for Women in Music at the University of New York (all 1996). She has also received the CalArts Alpert Award (1997), the Eddie Medora King Composition Prize from the University of Texas and the Adventurous Programming Award from ASCAP (for Music from China) (both 1999) and the Charles Ives Living Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001-04). Her most recent honors include the ASCAP Concert Music Award (2001) and the Elise Stoeger Award from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (2002).
Numerous ensembles and orchestras in China, Germany, Singapore, and the USA have commissioned her and she has received many grants. Her chamber music was featured in Sound and Silence, a series of ten films on contemporary music co-produced by ISCM (1989), and she was profiled in the documentary film Chen Yi in America (A Cantonese in New York) (2002).
Ms. Chen is also active in other positions. She served as a composer to and concertmaster with the Beijing Opera Troupe from 1970-78 and later served as composer-in-residence to the Women's Philharmonic, the male chorus Chanticleer and the Aptos Creative Arts Program in San Francisco from 1993-96. She has served on the advisory councils of the American Composers Orchestra since 1993, the International Alliance of Women in Music since 1995 and the Walden School since 2000 and on the boards of directors of Meet the Composer since 1997 and Chamber Music America since 2002. She founded the bilingual newsletter of Music from China in 1991 and has since served as its co-editor.
She taught composition, multicultural analysis, and the orchestral works of Claude Debussy at the Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins University from 1996-98 and has taught as the Lorena Searcey Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor in Music Composition at the University of Missouri at Kansas City since 1998. She was the Karel Husa Visiting Professor at Ithaca College in 2002-03 and has guest-lectured throughout China and the USA.
She is married to the composer Zhou Long.
Theodore Presser publishes her music.