Dear Friends,
HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR! Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.15.51 AM
It’s the year of the sheep/goat – peaceful, calming, and abundant.  The character of the Sheep/Goat, 羊, forms portion of the character 美, meaning “beautiful” (big sheep). I think of the ancient Chinese must be obsessed with the fluffy look of the sheep and adapted the horn as the most characteristic feature of this word. The character of the sheep 羊 is also imbedded within the word 善, meaning “goodness” (sheep and mouth). Together, the sense of the abundance and the goodwill informs the aesthetics of beauty in Chinese culture. 
May the plentiful beauty and the goodness with us throughout the year,
Warmest Regards, 
February 18th, 2015
Chicago, USA

Yuan’s music is recently being released, aired, and played. Stay tuned!

First of all, Kate Dillingham’s beautiful cello playing of “Tian Jin Sha”Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 6.48.35 PM (Shivering Winds, Serene Sky) blending her voice is so unforgettable.  I remember when I first heard her playing and singing, also her laughing, and charismatic smile when we collaborate.  Most important of all, she is a doer.  The credit of the new album “Crossing” goes to her passion and dedication to the new music.  The New York Public Radio Q2 writes:

One stand-out track on the album is Yuan-Chen Li’s Tiang Jing Sha (Shivering Winds, Serene Sky), in which Dillingham performs a virtuosic and colorful cello line as accompaniment to her own singing. Her airy and melodious voice achieves a ghostly, eerie effect that pairs beautifully with Li’s timbral shifts. 

Full critique and sound streaming can be found here, CD available at Amazon, more about the cellist Kate Dillingham.

Second, many thanks to my friend colleague Andrew McManus. Last year, he
mentioned Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 6.49.27 PMabout the EarShot program by American Composers’ Forum, said, “it is the best orchestra”.  I nodded my head, submitted my work.  The feedback is a heartfelt surprise. My orchestral work “On Aldebaran” is going to be read by Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra on February 11th.  See the press released here.  Being one of the four composers, I feel so lucky, looking forward to meeting these composers, BPO associate conductor, Stefan Sanders, mentor composers Robert Beaser of The Juilliard School, Rob Deemer from SUNY Fredonia and Pulitzer Prize winner Melinda Wagner at the event.  Come to hear us at Buffalo!

Page to the concert schedule.

Spell Resounding

Posted: 2015/01/19 in Promotion | 推廣

Thank Timothy McAllister for introducing my “Spell” for solo saxophone to more audience and professionals since last year, we are going to hear “Spell” resounding in The North American Saxophone Alliance Region 5 Conference in North Illinois University. This time, Jessica Maxfield‘s solitary voice in her saxophone can go very wild. Please come to see her play (by the way, she is awesome), and certainly, Tim is also bringing the concerto by John Adam to the stage. Who wouldn’t want to miss it? Come to join with us this weekend. A complete list of performance can be previewed here.

Title of the composition: Spell
Year of Composition: 2009
Instrumentation: Solo Alto Saxophone
Performer: Jessica Maxfield
Time: January 23, Friday, 7:30 pm
Place: Northern Illinois University Boutell Hall

Page to sample of the recording.
Preview the 
Write me a 
note if you wish to purchase the score!


I had a conversation on the title of my new composition “Wandering Viewpoint” in comparison to the word “Wonder” with Linda, a MLA alumni from Graham School that we met after the talk by Professor David Wray at Graham School’s MLA information session.  Her specialty as a translator (spanish & english) and her well-articulate manner made our conversation an enlightened one, starting when we looked into the etymology (see how Linda tracked down the meanings of the words on the sheet in the photo).  It begins to make sense.  I love how “miracle” implied in “wonder,” I also acknowledge how confusing it is to obtain an aimless “viewpoint” (mental position).*  For long, I appreciate the aesthetic “wandering” more than “goal,” or “ideology.” Although, most of the career path or whatever consultants (even Musical form!) would favor one has a “goal,” I ponder, my goal is to wander around? Does it sound alright?

The more I try to investigate my attempt deeper, I argue, it is important to know that the journey itself is more important than the destination.  To lose, or to gain/win, is sometimes so arbitrarily conditioned by whatever circumstances and rules.  Especially in the world of art, objective and subjective perspectives are not impossibly better or worse – a “bad” object might be meaningful for lending itself to exercise critical thinking.  To appreciate an object, is to participate, to give it attention, to explore, and to make dialog with your voice (have fun if you alter your position).  Would it be what “Wandering” might be meant to us during the course of a musical journey? To show my gratitude to the translator, Linda (whom I only know for few hours and promised to meet agin), and wish her the best for discovering beautiful things and miracles after we said goodbye, I wish to think about her a little more, and share a short article on “Wandering” in its German form Wanderlust, and more on the term “Wandering Viewpoint” that I borrow from Wolfgang Iser.

*The term “Wonder” was derived from David Wray’s lecture on Happiness.

voice of taiwan

Awarded to the “Best Art Music Album” of the year in Taiwan, the premiere-live recording of my orchestral Work “Intermezzo: SHANG” is released and available overseas! Conducted by Nicholas Milton, performed by National Symphony Orchestra.  I was very pleased by the star team involved in this album.
現場首演的錄音 “間奏曲:商” 發行囉!由尼可拉斯. 彌爾頓指揮, 國家交響樂團演出.

Find it in Taiwan
Find it at A
Find it at iTune

More about Intermezzo: SHANG

Intermezzo: SHANG (2010-11)   Yuan-Chen LI

Intermezzo: SHANG for symphonic orchestra was composed between my summer residency in Paris at the Cité des Arts in 2010, and the time I was pursuing my Ph.D. in composition at the University of Chicago ending in May, 2011. Also during this time span, I was able to attend some new music festivals in Europe as well as seminars and performances in Chicago. Importantly, many of them explored the problems of society or historical events, emphasizing the state of the human condition represented by disturbing psychological images and unique sounds.  Specifically, the violence taking place in North Africa and the Middle East during the political reformations affected me, as did the crisis in east- north Japan which precipitated a nuclear crisis, and the human rights progress in Taiwan, my home country, vis a vis the abolishment of the death penalty.  Overall, these events were astonishing for their scale and depth, and I was unable to effectively respond to them as an individual. However, I was optimistic that I could meaningfully reflect with my music as a composer.

The work is comprised of three movements: I. Onward. II. Intermezzo, and III. Strange Shore. The first movement begins with a mild, ascending gesture as the primary motive.  Later the orchestra develops multiple sections with different degrees of tensions and leads to the major triad ending.  The second movement is characterized by the strings playing a tender and harmonious chorale.  Finally, the last movement re-establishes its momentum, reminiscent of the first movement, and evolves to the climax of the entire work, represented by layers of ascending scales. At the end, a chant-like melody emerges in the violas, giving way to an unsettling, whisper-like ending.

Intermezzo: SHANG was commissioned by National Chiang Kai-Shek Cultural Center. The transformation of emotion could not have been realized without the support and technical guidance of my University of Chicago music department teachers, most important Kotoka Suzuki. The edition and the preparation of the final score were immensely improved thanks to the guidance of Cliff Colnot.

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第25屆金曲獎【最佳藝術音樂專輯獎】是也! “25th Golden Melody Awards [Best Artistic Music Album awards] ! 自2009年夏天收到委託邀請, 定合約, 兩廳院與NSO行政和2012年表演, 2011年嘔心瀝血的作品 “間奏曲-商” 曾在 2012年台新文化藝術獎入圍, 今年2014又再度獲得青睞, 整張專輯 “樂典 09″ 入圍金曲獎傳統金曲之「最佳藝術音樂專輯獎」和朱宗慶老師「最佳專輯製作人獎」, 是三位女性作曲家王怡雯、李元貞、洪千惠等的管弦樂作品,同時是由同年度最佳錄音獎錄音師尤子澤老師操刀的作品 。感謝大家教我這麼多, 非常以這張專輯感到光榮, 是大家集氣的成果, 就是要給觀眾最好的, 非常感謝送件提名和評審的肯定。這部專輯的製作,除了感謝無數小編美編在背後操刀以外,再次感謝當初越洋來電的陳毓秀主委,經過邱媛執行長和呂紹嘉指揮的支持,邀請尼可拉斯彌爾頓指揮 (Nicholas Milton) 遠從德國來台進行非常仔細的排練和首演。事實證明,音樂家和作曲家都得在精神和時間充裕的狀態下方能給予社會最佳的作品,而管弦樂,歌劇,多媒體等製作,更是集無數人的努力和貢獻,以及遠見,方能促成一張比桌曆還薄的專輯。網路書店找的到喲!

Available at Amazon at