Du Yun (traditional Chinese: 杜韻, simplified Chinese: 杜韵, born June 18, 1977) is a Chinese born international composer, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and performance artist. She won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Music for her opera Angel's Bone. She was a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow. Du Yun was named as one of the 38 Great Immigrants by the Carnegie Corporation of New York in 2018, and received a 2019 Grammy nomination in the category of Best Classical Contemporary Composition for her work Air Glow.
Early life and education
Du Yun was born in Shanghai, China. She began studying piano at the age of four, attending the primary school Shanghai Conservatory of Music for piano. She studied composition at the middle school Shanghai Conservatory of Music with Deng Erbo. Du later moved to the United States and graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in composition, under Randolph Coleman, and received a PhD in music composition from Harvard University, with Bernard Rands, Mario Davidovsky.
In 2006, Du Yun joined the composition faculty at the State University of New York-Purchase. In 2017, she joined the composition faculty at Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. The same year, she was also appointed as the artist-in-residence at the SHCM-Berklee Contemporary Music Institute, a joint establishment between the Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the Berkelee College of Music.
On her earlier years growing up in Shanghai, Du Yun recounted, in her contribution to WQXR, that neither of her parents went to college and both were factory workers in China.
She uses her whole name Du Yun, not Du, for professional and personal uses.
Her works include compositions for solo instruments, electroacoustic music, chamber music, orchestral works, opera, indie pop, punk, theatre, oral tradition music, sound installations, and performance art pieces. Du's works have been performed internationally in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Guangzhou Opera House, the Salle Pleyel Paris, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Escola de Música do Estado in São Paulo, the Darmstädter Ferienkurse in Germany. She has written for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, and solo artists Hilary Hahn and Matt Haimovitz.
From 2014-2018, Du Yun was the Artistic Director of the MATA Festival in New York City. In 2018, she was appointed as the visiting distinguished professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
Du Yun lives and works from New York City.
On April 10, 2017 she was awarded with Pulitzer Prize for Music for her second opera, Angel's Bone. The citation for the prize reads: "Premiered on January 6, 2016, at the Prototype Festival, 3LD Arts and Technology Center, New York City, a bold operatic work that integrates vocal and instrumental elements and a wide range of styles into a harrowing allegory for human trafficking in the modern world. Libretto by Royce Vavrek."
She is the composer of the musical Dim Sum Warriors, based on a graphic novel and bilingual iPad app series about kung fu-fighting dumplings by the Singaporean filmmaker, satirist and cartoonist Colin Goh and Yenyen Woo. Dim Sum Warrior was made into a Chinese musical which was produced by Stan Lai. The musical debuted in Aug 11, 2017, to sold-out audiences at Theatre Above in Shanghai, and went on to tour in 25 major cities in China the following year.
As a performing artist
Du Yun's performing persona on stage has been called "utterly extraordinary, unrestrained performance."
Performances in the visual art world
Du Yun has done works for the Guangzhou Triennial, The Shanghai Project, Cordoba Contemporary Arts Center, and the Shahjah Biennial.
Du Yun is an advocate for women, racial equality and social justice. In an interview with National Public Radio on the gender issue in classical music, she said: "I think this is the issue — larger and deeper than the debate of discrimination at hand. Any sustainable and viable career paths cannot and should not depend on a few people's luck." Speaking to Foreign Policy on art's power in politics, she said: “A lot of times politics, global issues, are very black and white... There is a place for that, but it’s also fantastic to have art side by side, from different viewpoints open for interpretations.”
Du Yun founded and curated the Pan Asia Sounding Festival at National Sawdust in March 2018, as part of the Spring Revolution. “I want to demystify Asian culture. I want to question who owns the culture and bring together the divisions we have in society,” she told the New York News Channel PIX11.
- Slow Portraits
- Hundred Heads
- Vicissitudes No.3
- Impeccable Quake
- Angel's Bone
- Vicissitudes No. 1
- by of... Lethean
- Your eyes are not your eyes
- Air Glow
- A Few Stops on the N Train
- A Few Stops on the 7 Train
- Tattooed in Snow
Solo with or without electronics
- give me back my fingerprints
- The Veronica
- Run in a Graveyard
- When a Tiger Meets a Rosa Rugosa
- An Empty Garlic
- Dinosaur Scar
- Ixtab, 10pm