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Musical Dim Sum: Five Chinese Composers In America

Celebrating Chinese New Year, last year, in New York's Chinatown.
Matej Krajcovic
Celebrating Chinese New Year, last year, in New York's Chinatown.

Happy New Year — Chinese New Year, that is. Today marks the first day in the Year of the Dragon and, according to the Chinese calendar, the end of the winter season. The Chinese think of it as their spring festival.

Today also marks a different kind of festival, a week-long celebration of Chinese music and its Western intersections. Our colleagues at WQXR have organized "China In New York," a series of events and broadcasts surrounding tonight's Greene Space concertwith Chinese pianist Lang Lang, and his Tuesday night appearance at the New York Philharmonic (also webcast on this site) with conductor Long Yu.

In the mid-1970s, after the Cultural Revolution — which aimed to strip China of capitalist and Western elements — young Chinese composers streamed back into the reopened conservatories. Some even made their way to the West.

Below are five such musical adventurers, each of whom came to America to explore Western music styles, fusing them with their own ancient traditions to create vibrant new music that has had its own influence on classical composition.

Have a favorite Chinese composer or piece of music? Let us know in the comments section.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.