Using a decidedly contemporary language of diverse harmonic color, inventive timbre and ingenious effects, award-winning composer Yu-Hui Chang (born 1970) has written a wide range of music that compels and resonates with professional musicians and audiences alike. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University and commissions from the Fromm Music Foundation, the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition, and Meet the Composer. Additional honors include the Aaron Copland Award, the Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize from the Asian Composers' League, and the Council for Cultural Affairs of the Executive Yuan (an agency of the Taiwanese government).
A native of Taiwan, Chang began her intensive music training in piano, voice, and music theory at the age of 6 and started seriously pursuing composition as a career at the age of 14. After graduating from the National Taiwan Normal University, she came to the United States in 1994 and received a Master of Music degree from Boston University and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. Now an Associate Professor at Brandeis University, Chang taught at the University of California, Davis between 1999 and 2006. As a dedicated promoter of contemporary music, she co-directed the Empyrean Ensemble for six years, curated more than 50 concerts, and performed often as a conductor or a pianist. She is currently a co-artistic director of the Boston-based Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, a leading exponent of contemporary music performance since 1975.
Among the numerous commissions Chang received are those from the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Earplay, Alea III, Volti, the Triple Helix Piano Trio, Music from China, Chamber Music Now, the Tone-Melody Flute Ensemble, the Magic Clarinet Quartet, the Ju Percussion Group, Arts Council Korea, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center of Taiwan, the 2003 Seoul International Festival of Women in Music Today, and the Monadnock Music Festival as well as from cellist Rhonda Rider, percussionist Chris Froh, and many other individual musicians. Her compositions have been performed to critical acclaim in the Netherlands, Italy, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan and throughout the United States by many first-rate musicians and organizations, including the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, the Taipei Symphony Orchestra, the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra, the Nieuw Ensemble, the Lydian String Quartet, and the Alexander String Quartet. In March 2006, Works and Process at the New York Guggenheim Museum presented three of her works, highlighting Chang as a new talent of the younger generation.
The most essential characteristic of Chang’s music is an aesthetic and philosophical view of humanity that is timeless and that reaches beyond cultural boundaries. In its technical aspect, her music continuously explores new possibilities of timbre, texture, and manner of narration. She also believes that a well-composed piece of music may speak to its audience effectively regardless of its style.