Coming originally from China, Wang A Mao had to travel a long way from home to study composing in the United States. But her journey to Columbia to serve as one of the eight resident composers for this year’s Mizzou International Composers Festival was considerably shorter, for as the latest festival participant from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, she only had to travel another hundred miles or so down the road.
Wang (pictured) earned her bachelor of arts in composition at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and first came to Missouri to study for a master’s degree, which she earned in 2012. She currently is completing work on her doctorate in Kansas City, where her teachers have included Chen Yi, James Mobberley, Paul Rudy, and Zhou Long (who was a distinguished guest composer at the 2014 MICF).
Wang’s music has been recognized with awards and performances in both Asia and the United States. In 2011, she was selected as a winner of the Beijing Modern Music Festival’s Young Composer Project, and her orchestral works have been read by the American Composers Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony. In 2015, Wang’s “Characters in Theatre” was played at the NY Phil’s Biennial, a performance that the New York Times called “arresting…a kind of concentrated shot of the music associated with Chinese opera.”
Her chamber works have been premiered by groups including Third Angle New Music, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, and Music from China, and her commissioned work “The Feeble Breeze, The Sullen Spring” was included on the album East Meets West, Vol. II released by Albany Records.
She received a composition commission from the Missouri Music Teachers Association in 2013, and also has participated in composer fellowships and residencies at the Aspen Music Festival, the Intimacy of Creativity in Hong Kong, and the Banff Centre in Canada.
As a performer, Wang has played her own chamber works at Le Poisson Rouge in New York, Hong Kong’s City Hall Theatre, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and many Chinese venues. She also has performed her solo piano compositions at the Edgar Snow Memorial Fund Symposium and the National Association of Schools of Music concert series.
You can hear Wang A Mao talk about her music and about “Prowesses,’ the new work she’s written for Alarm Will Sound to perform as part of the MICF’s grand finale, in the interview she recorded last month for KMUC’s “Mizzou Music” program. For more, read her 2015 interview on the American Composers Orchestra’s website, and listen to samples of her music and another brief interview in the embedded players below.
“Shades of Chinese Essence,” a work for piano composed in 2014 and performed by pianist Zhang Yiming on February 26, 2015 at Temple University.
“Characters in Theatre (excerpt),” performed by the American Composers Orchestra led by George Manahan in June 2014 for the
Underwood New Music Readings at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York, NY.
Wang A Mao describes how her composition “Spirit of Zheng” was inspired by the poetry of Ruan Li.