Select Page

Chen Yi collaborating with Chanticleer

Award:  $35,000 Performing Arts grant awarded in 1995

Premiered:  June 14-16, 1996, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Composer Chen Yi collaborated with Chanticleer, the Women’s Philharmonic, the Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company, Chinese Cultural Productions, and the Dunhuang Ensemble to create and perform a cantata based on three Chinese creation myths.  It was performed at a full concert of Ms. Chen’s compositions and featured on The Music of Chen Yi, released in 1997 by Albion Records.

A native of Guangzhou, Chen Yi began studying violin and piano when she was three, but was forced to abandon her studies at age 15 and become a laborer in the Chinese countryside during the Cultural Revolution. Ironically, this hardship introduced Chen Yi to her most enduring source of musical inspiration–the folk culture of China. Dr. Chen has received numerous awards; and her orchestral, chamber, choral, and piano works have been performed throughout the world.

From 1993-96, Chen Yi was composer-in-residence with Chanticleer and the Women’s Philharmonic with the assistance of a New Residencies grant from Meet the Composer.  She worked closely with both companies, writing two new works for each. “Chinese Myths Cantata” culminated her residency.

Chanticleer, the only full-time, professional, classical vocal ensemble in the United States, has built its reputation on stellar interpretations of vocal literature, from Renaissance to vocal jazz, and from gospel to new music. It has commissioned many new works. The Women’s Philharmonic, which closed in 2004, was dedicated to the promotion of women composers, conductors, and performers. JoAnn Falletta conducted the “Chinese Myths Cantata” premiere.

Lily Cai Chinese Dance Company, a resident company of Chinese Cultural Productions, was established in 1988. Its repertoire includes dozens of new works and expands traditional Chinese dance forms in contemporary choreographic and theatrical settings.   The Dunhuang Ensemble was founded in 1993 by zheng player Liu Wei-shan to conserve the music played by traditional Chinese instruments.