Chen Yi


As a prolific composer who blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries, Dr. Chen Yi is a recipient of the Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001. She has been the Cravens/Millsap/Missouri Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory since 1998. She was elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2005 and American Academy of Arts & Letters in 2019.

Born in China, Dr. Chen received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University in the City of New York. Her composition teachers included Profs. Wu Zu-qiang, Chou Wen-chung, and Mario Davidovsky. She has served as Composer-in-Residence for the Women’s Philharmonic, Chanticleer, and Aptos Creative Arts Center (’93–‘96) supported by Meet The Composer and she has taught on the composition faculty at Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University (‘96–‘98). She has also been Distinguished Visiting Professor in China since 2006.

Fellowships and commissioning awards were received from Guggenheim Foundation (‘96), American Academy of Arts and Letters (‘96), Fromm Foundation at Harvard University (‘94), Koussevitzky Music Foundation at the Library of Congress (‘97), and National Endowment for the Arts (‘94). Honors include the first prizes from the Chinese National Composition Competition (‘85, ‘12), the Lili Boulanger Award (‘93), the NYU Sorel Medal Award (‘96), the CalArts/Alpert Award (‘97), the UT Eddie Medora King Composition Prize (‘99), the ASCAP Concert Music Award (‘01), the Elise Stoeger Award (‘02) from Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Friendship Ambassador Award from Edgar Snow Fund (‘02), the UMKC Kauffman Award in Artistry/Scholarship and Faculty Service (‘06, ‘12, ‘19) and Pulitzer Prize Finalist with Si Ji for orchestra (‘06). Her honorary doctorates are from Lawrence University (‘02), Baldwin-Wallace College (‘08), University of Portland (‘09), The New School University (‘10) and University of Hartford (‘16). She has received the Sterling Patron Award of Mu Phi Epsilon International Fraternity in 2011 and the Society for American Music Honorary Member Award in 2018.

Dr. Chen’s music is published by Theodore Presser Company, performed worldwide, and recorded in over 100 CDs, on Bis, New Albion, Teldec (w/Grammy Award for Colors of Love), New World (w/NPR Top 10 Classical Music Album Award for Sound of the Five), Albany, Naxos, BMOP/sound, XAS Records, Bridge, Centaur, Innova, Delos, Angel, Nimbus, Cala, Avant, Atma, Hugo, Koch International Classics, Eroica, Capstone, Quartz and China Record Corporation since 1986.

Most recent premieres have included Plum Blossom for piano solo at the Fifth Hong Kong International Piano Competition, Introduction, Andante, and Allegro by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, and Fire for 12 players by Grossman Ensemble at University of Chicago in 2019; piano concerto Four Spirits by China Philharmonic in Beijing and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016; Totem Poles for organ solo at AGO national conference in Kansas City, Pearl River Overture by Guangzhou Symphony in China and Southern Scenes for flute, pipa and orchestra by Hawaii Symphony in Honolulu in 2018.