An orchestra conductor with a distinguished career, Jindong Cai spent many years at Stanford University before coming to Bard in 2017 to found the US-China Music Institute. Cai is a Beijing native with strong ties to his homeland, and a leading advocate of music from across Asia. He has conducted most of the top orchestras in China, as well as orchestras across North America.
Jindong CaiConductor Jindong Cai is the director of the US-China Music Institute and professor of music and arts at Bard College. He is also an associate conductor of The Orchestra Now (TŌN). Prior to joining Bard he was a professor of performance at Stanford University. Over the 30 years of his career in the United States, Cai has established himself as an active and dynamic conductor, scholar of Western classical music in China, and leading advocate of music from across Asia.
Cai started his professional conducting career with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, where he held assistant conducting positions and worked closely with Music Director Jesús López-Cobos, Conductor Keith Lockhart, and Cincinnati Pops Conductor Erich Kunzel. He has worked with numerous orchestras throughout North America and Asia. Cai maintains strong ties to his homeland and has conducted most of the top orchestras in China. He has served as the principal guest conductor of the China Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra since 2012. In 2015, he led the Shenzhen Symphony on its first tour to the American West Coast, performing in Palo Alto, San Jose, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The concerts included collaboration with the San Francisco Opera on the premiere of a scene from Bright Sheng’s much anticipated new opera, Dream of the Red Chamber.
Cai is a three-time recipient of the ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. He has recorded for the Centaur, Innova, and Vienna Modern Masters labels. He has close relationships with many Chinese composers and has premiered or performed new works by Tan Dun, Zhou Long, Chen Yi, Bright Sheng, Ye Xiaogang, and Wang Xilin, among others. In recent years, a number of professional orchestras have approached him to create special programs of works by Chinese and other Asian composers, including the “Celebration of Asia” concert with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra in 2016.
Cai has received much critical acclaim for his opera performances. In 1992, his operatic conducting debut took place at Lincoln Center’s Mozart Bicentennial Festival in New York, when he appeared as a last-minute substitute for his mentor Gerhard Samuel in the world premiere of a new production of Mozart’s Zaide. The New York Times described the performance as “one of the more compelling theatrical experiences so far offered in the festival.” Cai serves as the principal guest conductor of the Mongolia State Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet in Ulaan Baatar. Since 2011, he has visited Mongolia a dozen times to conduct opera and ballet performances, and led the theater’s historical first tour to China in 2013.
Cai joined the Stanford University faculty in 2004 as director of orchestral studies and conducted the Stanford Symphony Orchestra for 11 years. He led the Stanford Symphony Orchestra on three international tours—to Australia and New Zealand in 2005; China in 2008, as part of the Beijing Olympic Cultural Festival; and Europe in 2013. In 2013, Cai launched “The Beethoven Project,” for which the Stanford Symphony Orchestra performed all nine Beethoven symphonies and all five of the composer’s piano concerti—featuring Van Cliburn Gold Medal–winning pianist and Stanford alumnus Jon Nakamatsu—in one season. Cai is also the founder of the Stanford Pan-Asian Music Festival. Over its 11-year history, the festival—which is dedicated to promoting an appreciation of music in contemporary Asia through an annual series of concerts and academic activities—has become one of the most important platforms for the performance of Asian music in the United States.
As a scholar and expert on music in contemporary China and Asia, Cai is frequently interviewed by news media around the world, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, BBC, and NPR. Together with his wife Sheila Melvin, Cai has coauthored several New York Times articles on the performing arts in China and the book Rhapsody in Red: How Western Classical Music Became Chinese. Their latest book, Beethoven in China: How the Great Composer Became an Icon in the People’s Republic, was published by Penguin in September 2015.
Born in Beijing, Cai received his early musical training in China, where he learned to play violin and piano. He came to the United States for his graduate studies at the New England Conservatory and the College-Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. In 1989, he was selected to study with famed conductor Leonard Bernstein at the Tanglewood Music Center, and won the Conducting Fellowship Award at the Aspen Music Festival in 1990 and 1992.
Yu Hongmei (erhu)
Yu Hongmei maintains an active solo career in erhu performing. She has toured Europe, America, Africa, and many regions in Asia, and has successfully held hundreds of recitals in the United States, France, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong and mainland China. Her album String Glamour won the Best Traditional World Music award by Indie Music in the United States. She was the first Chinese recipient honored for this award in its 30-year history.
Yu Hongmei has premiered many classic erhu works and core repertoires, and has produced exemplary works embodying different times in Chinese history: Dreams of Jinghua, Eight Banners, Tianxiang, West Rhapsody. She has appeared in many world class concert halls: Musikverein (Golden Hall in Vienna), Carnegie Hall in New York, Avery Fisher Hall of Lincoln Center, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, Lucerne Concert Hall at KKL Luzern. She participated in many major performance events such as American Culture in China, New Culture in Australia with Chinese Culture, Spring Prague in the Czech Republic, Chinese Arts Festival, Beijing International Music Festival, Shanghai International Arts Festival, German Music Festival, and the Macao Arts Festival.
As an educator, Yu Hongmei recorded Erhu by Maestros, and edited and published Collections of Erhu Works presented by China Central Television, the most predominant state television broadcaster. Her publications, such as Dynamics in Erhu Performance and How to play A Flower (an erhu piece by Song Fei) are well recognized and widely cited in Chinese music journals. Yu Hongmei has been invited to lecture at various institutions including California Institute of the Arts and the City University of Hong Kong.
New York Concert Journal complimented her on her exquisite touching sounds as she “represents the contemporary spirit of Chinese musical culture.” Joining the US-China Music Institute of Bard Conservatory of Music, Yu Hongmei continues committing herself to preserving cultural heritage, promoting and developing Chinese music in America.
Zhou Wang (guzheng)
Zhou Wang learned from her father, the world class musician in the Qin Zheng Shanxi genre Zhou Yanjia. She then studied with Maestros Zicheng Gao, Zheng Cao, Sihua Xiang, Xiuming Yang, Shange Fan, and Zhaoyuan Shi, combining north-south flavors and inheriting the true art of Zheng playing from different genres. Joining the Central Song and Dance Troupe in 1977, Zhou Wang has been an active performer in China and abroad. She was invited by the National Record Association to record The Tune of Qin Mulberry, a classical masterpiece of Shanxi genre.
As a musical ambassador and a soloist, she has toured internationally on behalf of the Ministry of Culture on many occasions. As a scholar of musical exchange, she has given lectures at institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2014, she held a Zheng recital at Carnegie Hall.
Zhou Wang has served as judge and chairperson for many national and international competitions: the Golden Bell Award, Mandarin Award, Central China Television, National Chinese Instrument Competition, and Hong Kong International Zheng Competition. In over forty years of teaching, she has been dedicated to fostering many outstanding young guzheng players, who have won prizes in major competitions around the world. Many of them continue careers as educators to teach the younger generations.
In promoting Chinese music, Professor Zhou Wang has published recordings of many core classical repertoires such as High Mountain and Running River and albums featuring traditional guzheng solo works of several traditional genre classic pieces: Famous Melody of the North, Geniuses Traditional Zheng as well as many internal course teaching materials for the China Central Conservatory of Music. Her publication, Qin Zheng Qin Ren Qin Sheng, has been widely cited in Chinese musical journals.
Zhou Wang also arranges and composes traditional and contemporary Zheng musical works. She arranged the Shanxi genre Zheng pieces Huan Music, Lao Long Cries the Sea and Ming Fei’s Resentment (a guzheng and erhu duet). Together with Professor Zhenyu Huang, she has composed the contemporary Zheng pieces Fantasia in the West, Reflection, and Slowly Voice.
Zhang Hongyan, pipa
Zhang studied under Zhang Shijun, Sun Weixi, and Lin Shicheng, beginning her studies when she was seven years old. In 2011, she created a weeklong pipa festival, presenting four concerts of solo, chamber, ensemble, and concerto performances, essentially summarizing all of classical pipa music. In connection with the festival, Zhang also published a research paper, “Boat Against the Current: The Feeling of a Musician Today.” This festival and her paper were among the most important musical events at the start of the 21st century in China. Zhang, also known as Pipa Walker, has performed at such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, Vienna’s Golden Hall, St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre, and Suntory Hall in Tokyo. As a soloist, she has played with world-class orchestras such as the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic, Brazilian Symphony, and Tokyo Philharmonic. In recognition of her contributions to traditional Chinese music, her album House of Flying Daggers is part of the permanent collection at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Zhang founded the national orchestra of the Central Conservatory of Music, and has won many awards in China and internationally for music education, including the Yang Xuelan Music Education Award, Baosteel Education Fund Outstanding Teacher Award, and more.
Zhang Qiang (pipa)
After graduating from CCMO in 1987, Professor Zhang had devoted himself to teaching at CCMO as a pipa instructor for almost three decades. He has been a judge at major domestic and international instrumental music competitions and has been invited to give lectures at many educational institutions. In addition to his traditional approach in systematic technique training, Professor Zhang focuses on the cultivation of students' music awareness and strongly urges his students to explore and display personal character in performing. Many of his students stand out as national winners of China’s highest-level competitions.
Professor Zhang is an active performer throughout China and abroad. He has regularly appeared in international music festivals: the Edinburgh International Festival, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Center Festival of Contemporary Music, Berlin Art Week, Torino Art Festival, and other festivals held in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. His musical collaborations also include the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra and China National Symphony Orchestra, Dutch New Orchestra, China Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, China Radio National Orchestra, Shanghai National Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Taipei National Orchestra, Guangdong National Orchestra, Macau Chinese Orchestra and Singapore Chinese Orchestra. He was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall, Berlin Philharmonic Concert Hall, Musikverein (Golden Hall in Vienna), Lincoln Center in New York City. His work features solo pieces for pipa, concertos, traditional repertoires, and he actively engages in contemporary chamber music.
Professor Zhang maintains a lifelong devotion to academic research. Together with three professors from CCMO, he has been working on a historical preservation project, Xian Suo Bei Kao, imparing, performing and eventually completing the full-scale (1814 manuscripts) music on the ancient spectrum of the Qing Dynasty.
Xu Yang (ruan)
Ms. Xu is the associate director of ruan profession committee in China Nationalities Orchestra Society (CNOS), the committee of the national professional skill appraisal expert association, the executive director of Chinese Music Instrument Society, the committee of Chinese Music Instrument Qualification Exam Council, artist director of Ruan Family Orchestra at Central Conservatory of Music, the founder and executive director of Ruan Family at The Ocean of Music instrument company, the director of Xu Yang Ruan Family International Cultural Research Institute. She had studied with Pang Yuzhang, Lin Jiliang, Ning Yong. Yang has published few ruan text books and ruan recordings, such as "The best way to learn is learn from the best - Ruan Tutorial" Book 1 and 2, "Central Conservatory Ruan Qualification Exam Repertoire", "Chinese National Ruan Qualification Exam Repertoire", "Happy Learning Ruan - Study with Famous Teacher!", "The Rhythm of the mountain", etc. Over more than 40 Xu's students were winning in different national and international Chinese Music competitions, and many of the students have became ruan professor in different schools and also professional ruan players in the professional orchestras. In view of her outstanding artistic innovation ability and teaching achievements, Ms. Xu has won several awards, including selected into the ministry of education's program called "Outstanding Backbone Teacher Supporting Program" in 2009; the "Excellent Gardener Award" from the youth vanguard team of the central league and the foreign exchange center of the ministry of culture, the "Excellent Instructor Award" from "The Talented Musicians Raising Program" in 2016, central conservatory BOB excellent instructor, the title of "Outstanding Performer" in 2018.
Zhao Jiazhen (guqin)
Zhao Jiazhen is a professor of guqin in the Traditional Music Department at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China. She studied at the Central Conservatory, graduating in 1984. Zhao has performed with the Chinese Symphony Orchestra, Film Orchestra of China, Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Brussels Symphony Orchestra of Belgium, and National Orchestra of Taipei City. In 2001 and 2002 she performed in the “World Renowned Musicians and Instruments Concert” at Zhong Shan Hall inside the Forbidden City in Beijing, featuring three priceless guqins from the Tang Dynasty and five Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari violins. Zhao has performed in films such as The History of the Three Kingdoms, Dream of the Red Chamber, Swordsman, Fire on Yuanming Yuan, and Wu Ze Tian. She has also produced more than 10 albums of guqin music. At the 10th annual Independent Music Awards, her album Qin: Masterpieces of Chinese Qin from the Tang Dynasty to Today won best album in the World Traditional Music category.
Chen Yan (erhu)
Qiao Jia (Chinese percussion)
Wu Man (pipa), Master Classes
Chen Tao (dizi), Chinese Ensemble
A graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Chen Tao was the winner of the 1989 National Folk Instrument Competition in China and has toured the United States, Germany, Italy, France, England, Holland, Singapore, and elsewhere. He has collaborated with the BBC Philharmonic and National Orchestra of Lyon. His playing can be heard on soundtracks of Hollywood movies including Seven Years in Tibet, Corrupter (with the New York Philharmonic) and on the PBS documentary Under the Red Flag. Since coming to the United States in 1993, Chen Tao has been invited to perform and lecture throughout the country. His second Flute Recital was performed in Carnegie Hall by the New York Flute Club in 2001. He has performed at Lincoln Center and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center with groups such as the Manhattan School of Music’s Chamber Orchestra, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, and H. T. Chen Dancers. China Institute in America has invited him to perform and lecture on the Chinese flute since 1995. The World Journal and Tsingtao Daily have called him “king of the flute.”
As a music educator, Chen Tao has been leading Melody of Dragon in collaboration with the Midori & Friends Foundation to develop Chinese music culture in elementary schools and high schools throughout the New York metropolitan area. He joined the US-China Music Institute faculty in 2019 as chamber music coach of the Bard Chinese Ensemble and master teacher of the dizi for the undergraduate degree program.
Yazhi Guo (suona)
Guo graduated with distinction from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 1990 and for nine years lectured on suona there. He has won many international awards, including the grand prize at New York’s International ProMusicis Award (1998). Named as one of China’s most outstanding musicians by its Ministry of Culture, he was invited to give a solo performance with suona and saxophone for the heads of states during President Clinton’s visit to Beijing in 1998. In the 1990s, he recorded the original songs for more than 100 films and popular TV series, and drew a huge following of fans. Guo was appointed as principal suona by the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra in 1999. Since then, he has performed with many orchestras around the world, including Orchestra de la Suisse Romande (Switzerland), South Korea Daejeon Philharmonic Orchestra, Belgium’s Flanders Symphony Orchestra, Malaysia Chinese Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra, and National Chinese Orchestra of Taiwan. He also lectured at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and led the Hong Kong Suona Association as its first executive director.
Guo received the Hong Kong Award for Best Artist in 2012 and that same year, at age 46, said farewell to the highly competitive position of principal suona in the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra and relocated to Boston to explore jazz at Berklee College of Music. While studying at Berklee, he actively showcased the uniqueness of suona on various occasions and made the traditional suona more fashionable and popular. After graduating from Berklee with an artist diploma in 2015, he led Berklee’s jazz band during its visits to China and Singapore; he also performed in many other cities and gave college lectures. His fusion-style jazz performances were highly received by Chinese and American audiences.
Mingmei Yip, Chinese Music History and Culture
Also a writer, Dr. Yip has published fourteen books, with two on the qin. Her latest and 7th novel The Witch’s Market (Kensington Books) which received a glowing review from the New York Times. She wrote columns for seven major newspapers and has appeared on over 50 television and radio programs in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and the United States.
She is also accomplished as a painter and calligrapher. A one-person show of her paintings of Guan Yin (the Chinese Goddess of Compassion) and calligraphy was held at the New York Open Center Gallery in SoHo in 2002. Dr. Yip was lecturer and senior lecturer (associate professor) of music at Chinese University of Hong Kong and Baptist University respectively, and in 2005, an International Institute of Asian Studies fellow in Holland researching on the qin. She has taught qin playing and calligraphy at two major Hong Kong Universities.
Xinyan Li, Chinese Music History and Composition
Dr. Li’s music works have been featured at Aspen Music Festival, Carnegie Hall, National Opera Center, Composers Now Festival, the 89th Music Mountain Festival, the 11th Beijing International Chamber Music Festival, the 13th Thailand International Composition Festival, the 19th Nordic International Bassoon Symposium, the 44th and 45th IDRS Annual Conference, Seal Bay Festival, and China’s National Center for the Performing Arts. She was invited as a visiting composer by Aspen Music Festival in 2007 and 2015; her interview and six works have been broadcasted by Sweden’s national radio—Sveriges Radio in 2011; her wind quintet Mo Suo’s Burial Ceremony was released by Albany Records in 2019, performed by Pan Pacific Ensemble; her music composed for Laozi’s Dao De Jing, translated by Ken Liu, has been released by Audible in 2022; her three chamber works were published by TrevCo Music Publishing. Her music has been performed by Omaha Symphony, musicians of Eighth Blackbird, PRISM Quartet, American Composers Orchestra, The Orchestra Now, Bergen Woodwind Quintet, Cassatt String Quartet, Earplay, Quintet of the Americas, Donald Sinta Quartet, Music From China, as well as principal musicians of Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis, Montreal, Bergen Orchestras and Danish Chamber Orchestra. Her awards include ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award, American Composers Orchestra New Music Readings, Tsang-Houei Hsu International Music Composition Award, IDRS Conference 2016 Schwob Prize in Composition, and LunArt Festival Call for Scores.
As a native Chinese, Dr. Li has conducted field research on folk songs, folk chorus and ethnic instrumental music of various minorities, such as Dong, Miao, Yi, and Zhuang in southwest China, as well as Mongolian and Daur in northeast China. She has also extensively studied roles, singing styles, and instrumental music of Beijing Opera and Kunqu. Rooted in Chinese music and culture, she composed a duet for qingyi and xiao, a chamber concerto for hualian and chamber orchestra, a septet for guqin, guanzi, and five western instruments, a trio for flute, pipa, and cello, and a quartet for flute, pipa, erhu, and percussion. These compositions have been performed by virtuosos Zhihou Hu, Zhang Qiang, Zhou Yi, Shenshen Zhang, Guowei Wang, Chen Yue, Huang Mei, as well as Beijing Opera actress Zhu Hong and actor Qingxian Liu.
Dr. Li has taught composition and music theory at New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Very Young Composers Program, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and China Conservatory of Music. Her composition students have been accepted by the Pre-College Division of The Juilliard School, Mannes School of Music, and Berklee College of Music. She has given music lectures at Grieg Academy-University of Bergen in Norway and Adelphi University in New York. As a pianist, she is skilled in playing improvisation piano accompaniment. She has worked with Metropolitan Opera conductor Gregory Buchalter, New England Conservatory professor Karen Holvik, and Chinese singer Gong Linna.
Contact the US-China Music Institute
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