Composer, Ph.D.


Chiayu is an active composer of contemporary concert music. Chiayu has been interested in deriving inspirations from different materials, such as poems, myths, and images. Particularly, however, it is the combination of Chinese elements and western techniques that is a hallmark of her music.

Her career has been burgeoning with a remarkable number of commissions. In March 2014, her Shank Ko, received its Asia premiere by the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. Shan Ko was the winning work of Lynn University’s international call for scores and premiered under the baton of Maestro Gunther Schuller. The piece was also selected by the EarShot program and read by the Nashville Symphony under the baton of Maestro Giancarlo Guerrero in April 2010.

In August 2011, Xuan Zang for horn and orchestra was premiered by soloist, Kristin Jurkscheit, and Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Marin Alsop. Of Chiayu’s Zhi [for violin and Piano], Ivan Hewett of the London Telegraph wrote, "...Zhi, a set of four miniatures...Each fixed a completely distinct world of feeling, compounded of Ligeti-like 'mechanisms' and a keen lyricism. I reckon she's the one to watch."

In 2008, her Feng Nian Ji was premiered by Cabrillo Festival Orchestra under Maestro Marin Alsop’s leadership and received an honorable mention by the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. The same year, her Reverie and Pursuit received its premiere performance, commissioned and performed by Carol Jantsch, the tuba principal from the Philadelphia Orchestra and the recording was later released in 2009 in her album, "Cascades." In 2007, her Fantasy on Wang Bao Chuan, commissioned by Taiwan’s Evergreen Symphony orchestra, was selected for the American Composers Orchestra’s annual Underwood New Music reading and also received an honorable mention by the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute. Later, Chiayu was invited to collaborate with choreographer Keith Thompson from the danceTactics, for whom she composed Pellucid Tensions.

Huan for solo harp was the winner of the Composition Contest for the 7th USA International Harp Competition in Spring 2006 and was included in the repertoire for the harp competition. Huan was introduced by Sonja Inglefield in an article in the fall 2006 issue of World Harp Congress Review. Chiayu was also invited to conduct a composer’s forum in the competition and was interviewed for the documentary, Harp Dreams, which was televised on PBS in June 2010. In August 2006, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra premiered Chiayu’s work, Hard Roads in Shu, which later received performances by the Detroit Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the Toledo Symphony and the Spokane Symphony.

Chiayu’s music has been premiered by the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, pianist Natalie Zhu, oboist Katherine Needleman, the ensemble eighth blackbird, the Prism Quartet and the Ciompi Quartet. Her works have been performed at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall, Zankel Hall, Davies Symphony Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Skirball Center for Performing Arts, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Moscow Open Harp Festival, and the National Concert Hall in Taiwan, and have been broadcast on WFIU, WIRU and WPKN Today. Her Among Gardens has been released, to critical acclaim, on pianist Natalie Zhu’s Meyer Media Records CD, “Images,” and on pianist Brian Hanke’s “Interconnections.”

Chiayu has received numerous awards and honors for her compositional endeavors. In 2013, Journey to the West, was the winner of the IAWM Search for New Music and was featured in the fall 2013 issue of the IAWM journal. Shui Diao Ge To, composed for the 2004 Milestones Festival, received a 2005 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award. In 1999, her Dinkey Bird won the Maxfield Parrish composition contest and was the subject of a feature in Philadelphia Inquirer. She has also received the first prize in the National Taiwan Academy of Art Composition Competition, in the Charlotte Civic Orchestra Composition Competition, in the Philip Slates Memorial Composition Contest, the Prism Quartet Student Commission Award, the Renée B. Fisher Foundation Composer Award, the William Klenz Prize, the Sorel Organization’s 2nd International Composition Competition, music+culture 2009 International Competition for Composers, the 2010 Sorel Organization recording grant, the KH Tan Composition Competition and the Copland House Residency Award.

Born in Banciao, Taiwan, Chiayu is an associate professor of composition at UW-Eau Claire. She has received her Bachelor of Music from the Curtis Institute of Music, Master’s degree and Artist Diploma from Yale School of Music, and Ph.D. from Duke University. She has been in different residencies in the United States and Europe, including Yaddo, Wildacres Retreat, the Camargo Foundation, and Dora Maar House. She has studied at the Banff Centre for the Arts, the Chamber Music Conference and Composers’ Forum of the East, the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, the Aspen Music Festival, American Conservatory (Fontainebleau), and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Her teachers have included Jennifer Higdon, Martin Bresnick, Roberto Sierra, Ezra Laderman, David Loeb, Anthony Kelley, Jeffrey Mumford, Donald Crockett, Jonathan Berger, Christopher Rouse, Robert Beaser, Joseph Schwantner, Joan Tower, Marco Stroppa, Scott Lindroth, and Stephen Jaffe.

Her recent projects include a mix ensemble work for yMusic, a chamber orchestra piece for Symphony Number One, and a piano concerto for Anna Shelest.

While not composing, Chiayu enjoys reading, playing sports, watching movies, and spending time with friends.

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