Born in Taipei, May-Tchi Chen received a BA degree from Soochow University, Taiwan, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition from the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. Her main teachers were Ma Shuei-Long and Jonathan Kramer.  During 1991-94, she was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia University in New York City. In 1997-98, she led the Program-Planning Division of the National Theater/Concert Hall in Taipei.

     As an International Nadia and Lili Boulanger Fellow in 1988-89 based in Paris, Chen participated in the Boulez workshop in Avignon. During her year in France, Ms. Chen’s music was performed at Radio FRANCE and Centre George POMPIDOU. In 1991, she was selected by the National Music Hall in Taipei to be the first 'Young Music Talent' to present an entire concert program. After moving back to the United States, Chen was a nominee for the 1997 Music Composition Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

     Ms. Chen's compositions have been performed in Cincinnati, Boston, Buffalo, Darmstadt, Copenhagen, Shanghai, Hiroshima, Paris, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Amsterdam, Stuttgart, New York, Vienna, and her home town of Taipei.  Among the conductors and musicians who have performed her music are Bernard Rands, Gerhard Samuel, Aldo Brizzi, Pierre-Yves Artaud, Wu Man and Cho-Liang Lin. Groups that have performed her works include the University of Michigan Percussion Ensemble, Shanghai Silk and Bamboo Ensemble, Darmstadt Ferienkurs Ensemble, Taipei Municipal Chinese Classical Ensemble, Cincinnati Philharmonic Orchestra, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra 2001, Pulse Percussion Group, Relâche Ensemble, and the French Ensemble 2e2m.

     In 1992, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, the public radio station WGUC commissioned an orchestral piece from Chen.  The Cincinnati Enquirer described Continuum as 'mesmerizing to watch as to hear,' and also commented 'Chen displayed an ingenuous use of timbres and virtuoso writing.'

     Ms. Chen has received grants and commissions from the French Government, the Gaudeamus Foundation, Meet the Composer, National Endowment for the Arts, Council for Cultural Planning and Development, and World Music Institute.  Music critics from the Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer have acclaimed her music. The New York Times called her percussion piece, Beyond the Festival, 'compelling – the metrically complex structure exhibits an aggressive edge that gives it both drama and drive.'

     Having explored a variety of contemporary aesthetics and composition techniques in earlier pieces, Ms. Chen's recent works have incorporated Oriental influences, ranging from the ancient Chinese Elegant Music found in the Japanese and Korean Court Music to Taiwanese folk theater music.

    In 2001, Chen produced a concert of her spiritual cycle Sonic Mandala with renowned violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and Chinese lute player Wu Man at the Taipei Theater in New York.

    Chen’s most prominent work is a new opera The Firmiana Rain, based on a ninth century royal love tragedy of the T'ang Dynasty.  The New York City Opera selected The Firmiana Rain for their Vox 2002: Showcasing American Composers.  A full production was premiered at National Theater, Taipei, Taiwan, in November 2007. The production team assembles the best talents of Taiwan and Japan, includes the Taiwan National Symphony Orchestra. Four thousand spectators packed the house in three performances. 

     She continues to collaborate with excellent musicians worldwide for new works.  Her currently work is an flute ensemble piece for the French Flute Orchestra in Paris for an October concert at Salle Cortot.

     In 2011 her pipa solo piece [Transformation in Purple] performed by Wu Man, became the sound track of "Shadow | Play: The Empress Dowager in the Movies." at the Power|Play exhibition at the Freer/Sackler Gallery in Smithsonian Museum for 4 months.

    In 2011, she presented her opera the Firmiana Rain in a lecture concert with opera singers and musicians from China National Symphony Orchestra in Beijing, which was followed by a broadcast by Central China TV.

    A semi-staged, state-of-the-art production of The Firmiana Rain appeared on the beautiful stage of the Minato-Mirai Hall in Yokohama Japan attracted the enthusiastic attention of the major press and audience alike.

    She continues to create new compositions with excellent musicians, such as renown violinist Cho-Liang Lin in her new Violin Concerto, Spring Reflections, premiered in Philadelphia and Swarthmore in 2015. 

    She also champion modern music groups in major music festivals, truly to bridge the West and Asia through music interpretation.  She appears in Beijing Modern Festival, Tianjin Grand Theater, and Nanning ASEAN week in 2015 with Orchestra 2001 from Philadelphia, during which her new work “Harmonious Resonance of Spring” for pipa and Western ensemble is premiered.

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