陳士惠 A citation accompanying Shih-Hui Chen’s 2007 Goddard Lieberson Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters states, “Among the composers of Asian descent living in the U.S.A., Shih-Hui Chen is most successful in balancing the very refined spectral traditions of the East with the polyphonic practice of Western art-music.  In a seamless narrative, her beautiful music, always highly inventive and expressive, is immediately as appealing as it is demanding and memorable.” The release of 66 Times, an Albany Records CD entirely devoted to Chen’s works, was greeted with the following response from the American Music Center’s New Music Box reviewer, “It was tough choosing only one of these works to attempt to wax poetic about here, but I finally opted for the solo pipa, reveling in how it completely blurs the line between traditional Chinese music and contemporary American composition.”

Born in Taiwan, Shih-Hui Chen has lived in the United States since 1982. Since completing her doctorate degree at Boston University, Chen has received significant recognition for her work including a Koussevitzky Music Foundation Commission, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Chamber Music America commission, and an American Academy in Rome Prize. Her compositions have been performed widely throughout the United States and abroad, including Korea, Japan, England, Germany, and Italy. Chen’s compositions have brought her into contact with many orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Utah Symphony and National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. Her chamber music has been presented by the Arditti Quartet at Tanglewood Music Center, Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, and the Freon Ensemble in Rome, Italy. Chen’s work has also been the subject of analysis by scholars such as German ethno-musicologist Barbara Mittler, a specialist in contemporary Chinese music that analyzed Chen’s work for the Asian Music Journal CHIME, and also wrote Chen’s biographical entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.

In addition to being a composer who bridges Asian and Western music, Chen’s recent interests take her out of the concert hall and organizing events such as a US tour for Returning Souls, a film by anthropologist Hu Taili. Chen collaborated with Hu to produce music for this film while at Academia Sinica in Taiwan during a Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant in 2010.  Chen used the film materials to compose a solo violin work premiered by Cho-Liang Lin in 2011. In March of 2013, the film and the violin work were paired in a multi-disciplinary event that toured six universities across the U.S. including Harvard, Columbia, and U.C. Berkeley. Chen is also organizing a 2014 concert tour to bring the Little Giant Chinese Chamber Orchestra from Taipei to the US. The purpose of this exchange is to present traditional and newly composed music by Asian and Western composers for a mixed ensemble of traditional Chinese and Western instruments, and to educate young musicians through readings and workshops.

Shih-Hui Chen currently serves as Associate Professor of Music at the Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, where she teaches music composition and analysis. Recent premieres include a sound track (composed in collaboration with composer Kurt Stallmann) to accompany an animated film for the annual Water and Land Dharma Ceremony (水陸法會) produced by Dharma Drum Mountain (法鼓山), a highly regarded Buddhist organization in Taiwan that is also home to three Buddhist universities. This eight day ceremony was attended by more than ten thousand people on site, and thirty thousand people online.

Chen is currently continuing her research of Taiwanese indigenous music in 2013-14 with support from a Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs Fellowship. During this time, she has returned to Academia Sinica to compose Postcards from a Formosan Paiwan Village and is examining indigenous musical source materials for an analytical essay. Upcoming premieres include new works for string quartet and Nanguan pipa (Taipei in October, 2013); flute and guitar duo (University of North Carolina Wilmington in January, 2014); and flute and chamber orchestra (Appassionata Chamber Orchestra, Montreal, Canada in Fall, 2014).

Returning Souls / Returning Sounds

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