Zheng Tu

Zheng Tu

Chihchun Chi-sun Lee
Haiqiong Deng
Catalog Number: 
#1 095
new classical
new music
Release Date: 
Jan 26, 2024
Digital Only
One Sheet: 

Zheng Tu is a musical testimony of a cross-cultural trajectory for two Asian-American women who have explored new voices on the ancient Chinese 21-string zheng in the last twenty years. The compositions  and the performing styles featured in this album document this two-decade process of creating, collaborating, and growing. 

The composer, Dr. Chihchun Chi-sun Lee, is originally from Taiwan and was trained strictly in classical Western music. She started to explore Chinese traditional instruments in 1991, right before she came to the U.S. In contrast, the zheng virtuoso Dr. Haiqiong Deng grew up in Mainland China, underwent vigorous traditional Chinese music training, and only started to play contemporary pieces when she came to the U.S. Their encounter in the United States has generated a cross-fertilizing music trajectory of discovering ground-breaking sounds and techniques in every collaboration. This album represents the unique combination of East meets West and serves as a role model for bringing the

historical impact of the confluences between Chinese traditional zheng and contemporary classical music. The collection of the repertoire also serves as a document to inspire greater understanding and collaboration for future generations of Chinese instrument performers with contemporary composers. This album bridges the understanding of musical cultures, highlights multiculturalism, and brings a fresh voice to contemporary Asian music worldwide.

Taiwanese American composer Chihchun Chi-Sun LEE’s works have been described as “eye-openingly, befittingly, complex, but rather arresting to hear” by Boston Globe, “exploring a variety of offbeat textures and unusual techniques” by Gramophone and “eastern techniques blended with sophisticated modern writing style” by “Amadeus.”

As winner of the 1st Biennial Brandenburg Symphony International Composition Competition in Germany and 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, LEE originates from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. She has received commissions from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (as the 1st Taiwanese and the 4th Asian composer), the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University (2018 & 2001), the Barlow Endowment, the Taiwan National Culture and Arts Foundation, the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra (NTSO), the National Orchestra of Korea (NOK) and Taiwan National Chinese Orchestra. She also received the Theodore Front Prize from the International Alliance for Women in Music, and won the ISCM/ League of Composers Competition, the International Festival of Women Composers Composition Prize, a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, a Gugak Fellowship, and the Golden Melody Awards nomination for “best composer” (2019 & 2009) and "Best Crossover Music Album Award" (2022). She was the 1st Taiwanese/Asian composer to serve as a composer-in-residence at NeoArte Syntezator Sztuki, Poland in 2022 with a portrait concert. In 2017, Lee was honored with the Alumni Achievement Award in Music in Recognition of Outstanding Contribution to Music at Ohio University’s 100th anniversary of the music department. Lee has written over 50 compositions for traditional Chinese/Korean/Japanese instruments. Her music has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, ISCM World Music Days, and various international festivals and broadcasts worldwide (around 40 countries in 5 continents).

Dr. Haiqiong Deng is a master player of the 21-string Chinese zheng and a veteran practitioner of the 7-string qin. Her many awards include the prestigious 2017 Florida Cultural Heritage Award, the 2013 Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, the 2012 Master Artist of the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Award, and the winner of the Outstanding Performance Prize at the 1995 Chinese National Zheng Competition in Shanghai. In addition to promoting traditional and new music in the West in the last two decades.

Dr. Deng has also expanded her musical expressions by exploring diverse world music traditions. She has learned classical Indian music with Guru sitarist Nalini Vinayak since 2003. They released an album, Stringing Echoes, featuring the Chinese zheng, Indian sitar, and tabla in classical Indian Music for the first time in history in 2014. Dr. Deng is the featured artist in the chapter on Chinese music in the widely used university textbook World Music: Traditions and Transformations (McGraw-Hill) by Michael B. Bakan. In addition to extensive coverage of her music, life, and career in the text, there are recordings of her performing guzheng in the textbook's accompanying CD released by Sony BMG Music Entertainment. Dr. Deng received her Bachelor of Music in Zheng Performance from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music (1997), Master of Arts in Arts Administration (2004) and Ethnomusicology (2006), and Ph.D. in Musicology (2020) from the Florida State University. Dr. Deng has taught at Florida State University, University of South Florida, and Tallahassee Community College and directed the FSU Chinese Music Ensemble for seventeen years. She also serves on the Executive Board of Directors of the Council on Culture & Arts (COCA) in Tallahassee, Florida, to advocate diversity, equity, and inclusivity of art in local communities.