Composers Festival spotlight: Shuying Li

Resident composer Shuying Li comes to the 2021 Mizzou International Composers Festival from Spokane, WA, where since 2020 she has served as assistant professor of composition and music theory at Gonzaga University.

Yet her musical journey actually began years ago and much further away, at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in her native China.

In her sophomore year there, Shuying (pictured) won a scholarship to continue her undergraduate studies at The Hartt School in Connecticut. She went on to earn doctoral and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan,

She continues to be a research faculty member at the Shanghai Conservatory. And to promote cultural diversity and connections through music, Shuying founded the Four Corners Ensemble in 2017. As artistic director and conductor, her efforts have led to residencies and performances at Carnegie Hall, the Polish Consulate General in New York City, OPERA America, the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and more. Shuying also pioneered both the Operation Opera Festival in Ann Arbor, MI and the Jimo Ancient City Classical Music Festival in Qingdao, China.

For the MICF, Shuying has written a new work called “Sweeping and Weeping,” which will be performed by Alarm Will Sound as part of the festival’s “World Premieres II” online concert on Saturday, July 31.

Some of her other significant achievements include the premiere in 2017 of her commissioned work “Out Came the Sun” at Carnegie Hall by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; and serving that same year as one of three resident composers in the American Lyric Theater’s Composer Librettist Development Program.

In 2015, Shuying’s orchestral piece, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” was named a winning work as part of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s Edward T. Cone Composition Institute, and was performed by the orchestra under the baton of JoAnn Falletta. In 2013, her orchestral work “Overture to ‘The Siege’” won both IAWM’s Libby Larsen Prize and the Seattle Symphony’s Celebrate Asia Composition Competition, and was given a world premiere by the Seattle Symphony. And in 2014, Shuying’s work for band “Slippery Slope” won the distinguished ASCAP/CBDNA Frederick Fennell Prize.

Other recognition Shuying has received includes awards from The American Prize, the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition, the New Jersey Composers’ Guild Commission Competition, the International Huang Zi Composition Competition, the Michigan Music Teachers Association Commissioned Composer Competition, and numerous others. She also was composer-in-residence for the Romania ICon Arts Festival during the summer of 2014.

Shuying’s compositions have been performed by orchestras and ensembles around the globe, including Hartford Opera Theater, Wellesley Conference Chamber Orchestra, Orkest de ereprijs in the Netherlands, Norfolk Contemporary Ensemble, Avanti! Chamber Orchestra in Finland, and many more.

Her other upcoming projects include performances by Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, Moscow Contemporary Ensemble, Boston Modern Orchestra Project and more; an opera with librettist Julian Crouch, commissioned by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music; and a band consortium commission by 20 universities, including New England Conservatory, University of Michigan, University of Illinois, and others.

You can hear samples of Shuying Li’s music on her Soundcloud page and in the embedded video windows below.

“Bloodlines Paraphrase” was commissioned by Copland House for the Copland House Ensemble.

Excerpts from large ensemble works “The Last Hive Mind,” “Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night” and “Out Came the Sun”

Excerpts from the World Map Concerti Series: “The Dryad” (Erika Boysen, flute); “American Variations” (Joshua Anderson, clarinet); “Matilda’s Dream” (Richard Narroway, cello); “Canton Snowstorm” (Annie Jeng, piano); and “The Peace House” (Christina Adams, violin)