The music of composer Yao Chen is deeply rooted in the traditions of East and West as well as in the contemporary fusing of the two. With film and theater as additional influences, he has brought his creativity to multiple musical genres. After arriving in the United States in 2001, he has gradually developed as a composer with a distinctive voice in many international arenas. His music has been performed by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lorraine, the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the Pacifica String Quartet, Diotima Quatuor, eighth blackbird sextet, the Camerata Woodwind Quintet, the New Fromm Players, the TianYing Chinese Ensemble, the Beijing New Music Ensemble and many others.
Just a few of the important musicians with whom Yao Chen has worked are conductor Cliff Colnot, Rei Hotoda, Chinese pipa players Yang Wei and Lan WeiWei, Chinese bamboo flutist Zhang Weiliang, double bassist DaXun Zhang, sopranos Tony Arnold and Allison Angelo, pianist Nareh Arghamanyan, and bayan players Luo Han and Stanislav Venglevski. He has also received commissions, prizes and honors from Radio France, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, the Barnett Family Foundation Flute Competition, the Silk Road Project at the Art Institute of Chicago, the TMSK Liu Tianhua Composition Competition, and the ECU NewMusic Orchestra Composition Competition.
Yao Chen has shared his music with audiences at music festivals throughout the world, including the Radio France Festival Presences, the Tanglewood Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, the Centre Acanthes Festival, the Pacific Music Festival, the Moscow International Accordion Competition, the International Tianjin Accordion Festival, the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium in Chicago, the Chicago Contempo Concerts, the June In Buffalo Contemporary Festival, the SoundField Music Festival, the soundSCAPE Music Festival, the ECU New Music Festival, and the Western Illinois University New Music Festival.
A native of China, Yao Chen began his formal training in composition at the Xinghai Conservatory of Music in Guangzhou and continued his studies at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. His principal professors in China included Cao Guangping, Yan Dong, Su Xia, Yao Henglu, and Gao Weijie. He is completing his Ph.D. in music composition at the University of Chicago, where he studies with world-renowned composers Shulamit Ran and Marta Ptaszynska. He has taught in the Collegiate Division of the University of Chicago and is currently teaching at the School of Music of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.