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Queens College Welcomes Bright Sheng, Renowned Chinese-American Composer, As Visiting Distinguished Artist-In-Residence

-- Public Invited to His Concerts and Lectures at No Charge --

FLUSHING, NY. February 19, 2010 — Acclaimed composer, conductor and pianist Bright Sheng returns to his alma mater through December 2010 as Visiting Distinguished Artist-in-Residence at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. Internationally known as an innovative artist who skillfully weaves traditional Chinese music into his compositions, Sheng will present a series of free lectures and performances that range from a musical observation of the Nanking Massacre to collaborative performances with the Queens College music faculty and orchestra. Several lectures will feature demonstrations of traditional Chinese musical instruments.

Professor Sheng’s residency grows from Queens College’s Asian Initiatives Program, created in 2008, which coordinates, expands, and institutionalizes the college's existing Asia-related activities. The program will also forge stronger bonds and create greater visibility for the college in the Asian communities of Queens and the rest of New York City, as well as in Asia.

Sheng is considered one of the foremost composers and musicians of his generation. His music is performed throughout the world and he has a catalog of 20 recordings. A 2001 recipient of a MacArthur “genius” award, Sheng was named the New York City Ballet’s first composer in residence in 2006. In 1999 President Bill Clinton commissioned him to create a new work honoring the visiting Chinese Premiere Zhu Rongji. The resulting Three Songs for Pipa and Cello made its premiere in a performance by Wu Man and Yo-Yo Ma at the White House. Sheng has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and awards and fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Guggenheim, Jerome, Naumburg, and Rockefeller Foundations. He is currently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished Professor of Music at the University of Michigan.

“It is a pleasure to welcome such a distinguished alumnus back to the college. Professor Sheng is among the most notable composers and musicians of his generation; it is a sign of how much he values the education he received here that he was so eager to give something back to the next generation. It is exciting to see him working with our students,” says Music School Director Edward Smaldone.

Born in Shanghai in 1955, Sheng began studying the piano with his mother at age four. As a teenager during China’s infamous Cultural Revolution, he was sent to Qinghai—a Chinese province bordering Tibet—where he spent seven years as a pianist and percussionist in provincial music and dance theater, studying the folk music of the region. When China’s universities reopened in 1978, Sheng was among the first students admitted to the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition from 1978 to 1982. Following a move to New York in 1982, he earned a master of arts from Queens College in 1984 and a doctorate in musical arts from Columbia University in 1993. As a student at Tanglewood Music Center in 1985 he met Leonard Bernstein, who later became his mentor. Sheng studied composition and conducting with Bernstein privately until Bernstein’s death in 1990.

All of Sheng’s lectures and performances are free and open to the public. Call (718) 997-3800 or visit for more information. For directions to QC, visit


  • The Chinese Cultural Revolution—Experiencing It in Music Composition
    Wednesday, March 3, 12:15–1:30 pm, Music Building, Room 264
  • The Nanking Massacre—An Observer’s Musical Reaction
    (with demonstration of a pipa – Chinese lute)
    Wednesday, March 10, 12:15–1:30 pm, Music Building, Room 264
  • Love Songs from Tibet—Qinghai Plateau
    (with demonstration of an erhu – Chinese fiddle)
    Wednesday, April 21, 12:15–1:30 pm, Music Building, Room 264
  • The Phoenix—A Biblical Portrait
    (with participation of a soprano)
    Wednesday, April 28, 4:30–5:45 pm, Music Building, Room 264


  • Bright Sheng Residency Concert
    Wednesday, March 17, 12:15 pm, LeFrak Concert Hall
  • Bright Sheng Residency Concert
    Music by Bright Sheng
    Guest Artists: Queens College faculty Charles Neidich, Michael Lipsey, and Edward Klorman
    Wednesday, May 5, 12:15 pm, LeFrak Concert Hall
  • Bright Sheng Residency Chamber Concert
    With Special Guest Charles Neidich
    Saturday, May 8, 2 pm, Flushing Town Hall Gallery
  • Nanking! Nanking! Composed by Bright Sheng
    The composer conducts the QC Orchestra, September 29 at 12:15 pm, LeFrak Concert Hall.

The Aaron Copland School of Music not only offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs, but it also maintains a vital presence in the cultural life of queens and the greater New York City area.


 Office Information

Deputy Director of News Services
(Position vacant)

(718) 997- 5597

Maria Matteo
Assistant Director of News Services
Queens Hall, Room 270B
(718) 997-5593

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