Meilina Tsui2023 Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commission Recipient
Meilina Tsui’s LEAGUE COMMISSION Will BE PREMIERED BY Artis Naples—Naples Philharmonic (date TBD).
An additional four orchestras will perform the work, part of a 30-orchestra consortium performing works commissioned by the the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation Orchestral Commissions Program for women composers, an initiative of the League of American Orchestras in partnership with the American Composers Orchestra.
Meilina Tsui (b. 1993) is a composer, pianist, singer-songwriter, advocate for youth artistic development, and educator based in Orlando, Florida. Born in Almaty, Kazakhstan and raised in Hong Kong, Tsui is a composer who “popularizes Kazakh music tradition” (Kazakhstan International News Agency, Kazinform) and creates works that uniquely combine elements of Central Asian and East Asian cultures. She is the
first Chinese classical composer of Dungan ethnicity whose music has been gaining international recognition.
Tsui’s music, described by The Aspen Times as “irresistible, and emotionally convincing,” has been performed and read across Asia, Europe, the USA, and the Middle East by the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Kazakh State Philharmonic Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, University of Michigan Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, Naples Philharmonic Orchestra, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Lontano Ensemble, Radio Television Hong Kong Chamber Soloists, MR. Quartet & City Contemporary Dance Company, PHACE Ensemble, members of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Windpipe Chinese Music Ensemble, TURAN Ethno-folk Ensemble, Romer String Quartet, Quartetto Indaco, Israeli Chamber Project, Mivos Quartet, Kazakh State String Quartet, Converge Quartet, Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble, Nancy Loo & Mary Wu Piano Duo, Irvine Arditti, and Fleming Artist, Key’mon W. Murrah, among others; and broadcast by NAXOS Music & Video Libraries, London arts radio “Resonance fm,” RTHK Radio 4, and Channel 31.
Tsui’s works have garnered many accolades and have been featured in important events. Her Nomadic Trails for chamber orchestra has won the 2021 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award from the University of Michigan, the 2022 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award, and was selected from a competitive nationwide call for scores by the American Composers Orchestra in 2023.
Her String Quartet No. 2 “Kazakh Steppe” has received performances in Italy, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, Tel Aviv, New York City, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor, Chautauqua, and Del Mar, and numerous awards, including the 2018 Mivos Composition Prize for Chinese Composers worldwide and 2018 Intimacy of Creativity Concert ‘Audience Vote’ Prize. In 2018, Tsui was the main featured composer at the “Beyond Boundaries,
Beyond Time: Hong Kong-Kazakhstan” concert in Almaty, that marked the Secretary for Hong Kong Home Affairs Bureau’s first official visit to Kazakhstan, and for which she wrote a piece that, for the first time in history, combined Chinese, Kazakh, and Western instruments. In celebration of the HKSAR’s 20th anniversary in 2017, Tsui was the youngest and only female composer featured at the London “Hong Kong Music Series,” where her 12-minute work Six Miniature Pieces of Yin and Yang for two pianos was
performed to great acclaim.
As a supporter of cultural and racial diversity and inclusion, Tsui wrote a piece called Ay-Ay, Bopem (a Kazakh Lullaby Without Words), commissioned by members of the Lexington Philharmonic and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras for the ArtsWave Isolation Commissions, centered on themes of racial injustice and cultural healing. In 2022, Tsui was commissioned by the Houston Grand Opera and Asia Society Texas Center to write a family-friendly chamber opera, titled The Big Swim, which will be performed for 12
consecutive years during the Lunar New Year festivities in the US, starting from 2024. The piece is also a recipient of the 2023 OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Women Composers. Tsui’s other notable commissions include works for Aspen Music School & Festival, Hong Kong Government Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Television Hong Kong, Musicus Society, Hong Kong Composers Guild and The Chinese University of Hong Kong Art
Tsui has been a Composer Fellow at the Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, Aspen Music Festival & School, Chautauqua Opera Company, Del Mar International Composers Symposium, and Gabriela Lena Frank Creative Academy of Music.
Tsui holds music degrees from University of Michigan (DMA in Composition), King’s College London (MMus in Composition), and Chinese University of Hong Kong (BA in Music).
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Photo courtesy of Meilina Tsui