Founded in 1984 by Susan Cheng, Music From China is a small Chinese instrumental ensemble, comprised of erhu, yangqin, zheng, pipa, daruan, sanxian, sheng and dizi. It specializes in Silk and Bamboo music of Southern China, frequently performing traditional repertoire at venues ranging from major museums to classrooms. It also collaborates regularly with composers and performs new music. For a period, 1990—2002, its concert also included Cantonese opera, ranging from excerpts to fully-staged performances. The active ensemble averages 50-60 concerts yearly.
A proponent of new music, Music from China commissioned and performed many new work, as well as held annual international composition competition. Since its founding, it has premiered 132 new works by 81 composers. Among them 45 were its own commission, and 43 were winners of its competition. In 1991 Chen Yi and Zhou Long joined the group as music directors, composing many important works for the group. From 1991 to 1998, it also published bi-lingual quarterly newsletters, including commentaries on new works, performers and composers’ remarks, as well as program notes of the ensemble’s major performances and season highlights. In 2001, Music From China gave the world premiere of Jason Kao Hwang’s chamber opera The Floating Box— a Story in Chinatown—in partnership with the Asia Society. Its recent collaborator includes PRISM Saxophone Quartet. Located in New York City Chinatown, Music From China offers many educational and family programs, including free music instructions, summer camp and a 35-member Youth Orchestra led by its artistic director Wang Guo-Wei.