Composer, Ph.D.


Chiayu is an active composer of contemporary concert music. She 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.

Since December 2022, Chiayu’s work, City Renaissance, has been included in PBS’s series, Songs about Buildings and Moods, and aired nationwide. In July 2022, her EC Sketches was performed by the Orchestra internazionale di Roma at Festival Federico Cesi in Trevi, Italy and also at the femfestival in Florence, Italy in November 2021. Her choral work, To A Lost Year, waspremiered by the San Francisco Choral Society in May 2022. In August 2021, Bien was premiered at the Utah Arts Festival. Urban Sketches was performed by the Ensemble 20/21 at the Curtis Institute of Music in February 2020. Her Shan Ko was performed by FSU Orchestra at the FSU 2019 Festival of New Music. In September 2018, her pieces, Confluence Fanfare and Confluence Landscape were premiered at the grand opening of the Pablo Center at the Confluence. Her Land of Blugold was premiered for the celebration of the centennial at UW-Eau Claire in October 2016. In October 2014, her Sparkle was recorded for the NPR Performance Today for the celebration of the opening of Lenfest Hall at the Curtis.

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 performed by the London Sinfonietta, the Detroit, the San Francisco, the Spokane, the Toledo Symphony Orchestras, the Nashville Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra, the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Taiwan. Chamber works have appeared on programs of the Aspen Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble, the Metropolis Ensemble, Left Coast Chamber Music Ensemble, yMusic, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Eighth Blackbird, Ciompi Quartet, and Prism Quartet among others. 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 NPR, WNPR, 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.” In 2015, Naxos released Chiayu’s album, Journeys, including six of her solo and chamber works. Other commercially released albums by various artists have included “Huan” for solo harp, “Rhapsody Toccata” for solo piano, and “Black and White” for viola and piano/percussion.

Chiayu has received numerous awards and honors for her compositional endeavors. In 2021, she was the first prize winner at the Fem Festival in Italy for her EC Sketches. In 2021 and 2022, she received commissions from the Utah Arts Festival and the San Francisco Chorale Society because of winning their composition competitions. In 2016, Chiayu received the Lakond prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2013, Journey to the West, was the winner of the IAWM Search for New Music and she won two more awards from IAWM in 2016 and 2019. 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, the Charlotte Civic Orchestra Composition Competition, 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, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Zodiac trio, Kaleidoscopes and Elevate ensembles, Suzanne and Lee Ettelson Composer’s Awards, 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 solo organ work for the Curtis Institute’s centennial celebration, a viola concerto for Chippewa Fall Symphony Orchestra, 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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