Zhou Long (b. 1953, Beijing) is internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, including folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. His creative vision has resulted in a new music that stretches Western instruments eastward and Chinese instruments westward, achieving an exciting and fertile common ground.
He is the recipient of the 2003 Academy Award in Music, a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. A citation from the American Academy of Arts and Letters reads:
"Unlike many composers of today working between cultures, Zhou Long has found a plausible, rigorous, and legitimate way of consolidating compositional methods and techniques that allow him to express brilliantly both his experiences as a composer of Western music and his considerable knowledge of his native China. In [his music], Zhou Long displays a stunning (quasi-tactile) orchestral imagination that dramatically demonstrates his skill of embedding elements of the two cultures in a consistent, seamless, and original musical language."
Zhou Long was born into an artistic family and began piano lessons at an early age. During the Cultural Revolution, he was sent to a rural state farm, where natural scenes of roaring winds and fierce wild fires made a profound and lasting impression. He resumed his musical training in 1973, studying composition, music theory, and conducting, as well as Chinese traditional music. In 1977, he enrolled in the first composition class at the reopened Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Following graduation in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China. He came to the United States in 1985 under a fellowship to attend Columbia University and received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993, having studied with Chou Wen-Chung, Mario Davidovsky, and George Edwards. After more than a decade as music director of Music from China in New York City, he received ASCAP's prestigious Adventurous Programming Award in 1999.
Zhou Long is currently Visiting Professor of Composition and director of Musica Nova at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. He has also been a visiting professor at Brooklyn College and the University of Memphis. In addition, he has given composition lectures and master classes at Duke University, Cornell University, Columbia University, Indiana University at Bloomington, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, San Francisco State University, the San Francisco Conservatory, the Manhattan School of Music, the Peabody Conservatory, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. In May 2002, he was Music Alive! Composer-in-Residence of the Seattle Symphony's 'Silk Road Project' Festival with Yo-Yo Ma, supported by the American Symphony Orchestra League and Meet the Composer.
Zhou Long has received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, as well as recording grants from the Mary Flagler Cary Trust and the Aaron Copland Fund for Music. His awards include Masterprize (Two Poems from Tang with a performance by the London Symphony and recordings for BBC and EMI), and the CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, as well as winning the Barlow International Competition (Tian Ling with a performance by the Los Angeles Philharmonic), the Fifth International Competition in d'Avray, France (Dhyana), the Ensemblia Competition in Mönchengladbach, Germany (Ding), and many top prizes from Chinese national competitions. He has been the recipient of commissions from the Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, and the New York State Council on the Arts. Among the ensembles who have commissioned works from him, are the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra (Out of Tang Court), the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra (Poems from Tang), the Tokyo Philharmonic (The Future of Fire), the New Music Consort (The Ineffable), the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (Soul and Tian Ling), the Peabody Trio (Spirit of Chimes), the Kronos, Shanghai, Ciompi, and Chester string quartets (Poems from Tang), and the vocal ensemble Chanticleer (Words of the Sun). In September 2000, his evening-length work Rites of Chimes, for solo cello and Chinese instruments, was premiered at the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., by Yo-Yo Ma and Music from China.
In July 2004, the BBC Symphony, conducted by Leonard Slatkin, will premiere The Immortal, commissioned by the BBC World Service for the BBC Proms. In May 2003, the Singapore Symphony, conducted by Lan Shui, premiered The Rhyme of Taigu, commissioned with funds from the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition. Recent chamber commissions include The Five Elements (flute/piccolo, clarinet, percussion, piano, violin and cello), for the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players funded by a grant from the Fromm Foundation and premiered in November 2002. The same month, a version of The Five Elements for Chinese and Western instruments (dizi, erhu, pipa, clarinet, cello and percussion), commissioned by Wesleyan University, was premiered by Music from China.
Zhou Long's works have been recorded on BIS, EMI, CRI, Teldec (1999 Grammy Award), Cala, Delos, Avant, and China Record Corporation. His music is published exclusively by Oxford University Press.
A United States citizen since 1999, Zhou Long is married to the composer-violinist Chen Yi. It should be noted that Zhou is his family name and Long is his personal name, and thus he should be referred to as Mr. Zhou or Dr. Zhou.