Duo Ye No. 2

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        Chen Yi is a remarkable composer who has achieved worldwide acclaim for her many compositions--compositions that seek to reconcile--or at least convincingly meld--the disparate musical styles of East and West.  Born in Guangzhou, China in 1953, she studied violin early on, practicing surreptitiously with a mute upon the advent of the Cultural Revolution.   Ultimately, she had to give up music, owing to her impressment into forced agricultural labor in a variety of locations in China.  After that unfortunate episode in China’s history, she was able to enter the Beijing Conservatory in 1977.  Her career as a composer ensued with great success, culminating in a major, broadcast concert dedicated entirely to her compositions.   She came to the United States in 1986 and studied composition at Columbia University with the distinguished composers, Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky.  Thereafter, in 1996, she accepted a position at the Peabody Conservatory, and in 1998 joined the faculty of the University of Missouri at Kansas City.   She is the recipient of numerous prestigious fellowships, awards, and prizes, and enjoys performances of her compositions all over the world.

        Duo Ye No. 2 is one of her well-known works, dates from 1987, and received its world première performance in Lincoln Center in New York City by the Central Philharmonic of China.  In keeping with her distinctive approach to composition, Duo Ye No. 2, convincingly blends together the formidable sonorities and colors of the traditional European symphonic orchestra with the scales and melodies of the East.   The San Francisco Examiner characterized the work as  “East meets West in a series of mammoth outbursts and quiet silky exchanges.”  An encounter with this attractive and singular composition tells us much about this prolific and important member of the new generation of composers.

--Wm. E. Runyan

© 2015 William E. Runyan