Proclaimed “an innovative composer who merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries,” composer/conductor Bright Sheng received the coveted MacArthur Foundation Fellowship – the so-called “Genius Award” – in November 2001. “Sheng is a fresh voice in cross-cultural music,” the Foundation Committee further noted. “He will continue to be an important leader in exploring and bridging musical traditions.”
Among the major organizations that have commissioned and performed his works are: The White House, Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, the Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, St. Louis Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, The National Symphony, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Houston Grand Opera, Santa Fe Opera, City Opera of New York, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Orchestra de Paris, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra in London, Orchestra Sinfonica dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Hamburg Radio Symphony, Frankfurt Radio Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, National Symphony of Russia, Warsaw Symphony, Danish National Radio Symphony, Finnish Radio Symphony, National Symphony of Spain, Tokyo Philharmonic, China National Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, and festivals throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
In addition to being an active composer, Bright Sheng is also a highly regarded conductor and pianist. His guest conducting engagements have included the Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia, Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany, Grand Rapids Symphony, New York Chamber Symphony, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, New West Symphony Orchestra, Lexington Symphony Orchestra, Lincoln Center Festival, Spoleto USA Festival, Tanglewood Music Center, Brevard Music Center Festival Orchestra, Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Prince Music Theater, China National Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Asian Youth Orchestra.
From 1998 to 2003 Sheng was the Artistic Advisor to Yo-Yo Ma’s “Silk Road Project”, and conducted its first workshop at Tanglewood in 2000. From January 1st, 2006 to December 31st, 2007 he served as the first Composer-in-Residence for the New York City Ballet, for whom he also served both as a conductor and composed two new ballets. He has been the Director of the Festival of Contemporary Music at Tanglewood, Composer-in-Residence for the Art Institute of Chicago, Brevard Music Festival, the Winnipeg New Music Festival, Co-Artistic Director of the Seattle Symphony’s “Pacific Rim” Festival, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Symphony’s “Wet Ink” Festival, Composer-in-Residence with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, and from 1992-1994 resident composer of the Seattle Symphony. From 1989-1992 he held the same position for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Born December 6, 1955 in Shanghai, China, Bright Sheng began piano studies at the age of four with his mother. During the Cultural Revolution he was sent to Qinghai where he worked for seven years as a pianist, conductor and percussionist in a folk music and dance troupe. During that time he avidly studied and collected folk music of the area. In 1978 when China’s universities reopened, he was one of the first students accepted by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music where he earned his undergraduate degree. He moved to New York City in 1982 and received his Master’s degree at Queens College and D.M.A. at Columbia University. In 1985 he became a student and assistant of Leonard Bernstein and studied both composition and conducting under him.
Exclusively published by G. Schirmer/Music Sales, his works can be heard on Sony Classical, BIS, Delos, Koch International, New World, Naxos and Telarc labels.