Dr. Cheng Yu is the co-founder of the UK Chinese Music Ensemble (1998) and the award winning Silk String Quartet (2006). SHe studied the pipa from the age of 7 and graduated from Xi’an Conservatory of Music with distinction and won several top prizes on the pipa performances in China including the “excellent performer” award in 1987. Based in London since the 1990s, she gained scholarships for her MMus and PhD (SOAS, University of London) in ethnomusicology.
Besides performing regularly in the UK and Europe in venues such as the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Royal Opera House and at the WOMAD, WOMEX and Edinburgh Festivals, Cheng Yu has been actively involved in contemporary and cross-culture/genre music collaborations with composers including Tan Dun, Zhou Long, Philip Glass, Carl Jenkins, Fabien Tehericsen, Peter Wiegold and Judith Weir. Her recent project (2004-7) to recreate the 5-stringed pipa (lost since the 8th century) with new music has won her awards from ACE, AHRC and Women in Music and premiered in London, Beijing, Seoul and Taipei. Dr. Cheng Yu has performed with orchestras including the London Sinfonietta (1996), Lyon Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain (2001-2), Avignon Orchestra (2003-4), and the Edinburgh String Quartet (2004-5), the Grand Union Orchestra (2002-11), The Emperor String Quartet (2008), and the London Symphony Orchestra and Lang Lang (2009). In May 2014, she premiered 1st Prize winning piece by Xiao Ying at the Vale Glamorgan Festival with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in June she joined Ensemble Zar (a mixed-cultural group) and played at the Symphony Hall in Birmingham.
Wang Xiao, Erhu
Wang Xiao is an acclaimed Chinese erhu virtuoso. Born in Luoyang, Hunan Province, Central China, she learnt the erhu from the age of six and graduated from the Wuhan Conservatory of Music, China. Xiao was an erhu soloist in the Headquarters Arts Troupe of the Henan Provincial People's Armed Police. In 2001 she won a Silver Prize in the Luoyang Casio Young Instrumentalists Competition and the Gold Prize of erhu solo in the Henan Provincial 'Hundred Fountains Cup' Young Instrumentalists Competition. She then became the erhu and banhu fiddle soloist of the Luoyang Symphony Orchestra. Since moving to London, she joined the UK Chinese Music Ensemble and the award winning Silk String Quartet in 2008 and has been performing regularly in the UK and Europe. Her performances took her to prestigious venues, such as the Purcell Room, the Royal Opera House, the Dartington Great Hall and LSO St Luke’s. She has worked with renowned artists in contemporary music, such as with the pianist Lang Lang and the cellist Mathew Barley. In May 2014 she worked with the composer and conductor Ludwig Wicki and performed Star Trek with the Swiss 21st Century Symphony Orchestra and Chorus at the Royal Albert Hall. Wang Xiao is in demand for TV and film music recordings on the erhu and has recorded works such as Mummy 3, Singularity and Snow falls.
Gabriel Prokofiev, Composer
Gabriel Prokofiev is a London-based composer, producer, and founder of the NONCLASSICAL record label & club night (www.nonclassical.co.uk). Despite studying music and electroacoustic composition at both Birmingham and York universities, he has also been producing Dance, Electro & Hip-hop music under a variety of different guises over the last ten years. He returned to his classical roots in 2003, composing a critically acclaimed String Quartet No1 ("Stunning" DJ Magazine, "defies comparison" Daily Telegraph) which he released on his own independent label NONCLASSICAL, complete with Remixes of the original Quartet. What gives his contemporary classical writing its unique edge is Gabriels background in dance music combined with his classical roots. His compositions include a well received 2nd String Quartet, 'Sleeveless Scherzo' for solo violin & solo dancer commissioned by the Rambert Dance Company; as well as the groundbreaking Concerto for Turntables & Orchestra. This concerto premiered by DJ Yoda & the Heritage Orchestra at The Scala in Kings Cross has been performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra with Beni G to a sold-out Glasgow Royal Festival Hall, won Best Contemporary Classical CD at the 2010 Independent Music Awards, was recently premiered in the USA by the 'Present Music' ensemble, and performed at the BBC Proms in August 2011 conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. Other recent works include a book of piano music for Russian virtuoso Pianist GeNIA (released on the Nonclassical label), a large scale work 'IMPORT/EXPORT' for percussionist Joby Burgess's group Powerplant, using Junk objects; a collection of songs for cutting edge vocal trio Juice; a concerto for 'dancing' Viola, String Orchestra, Trombones & Percussion; a 3rd String Quartet premiered by the Ruysdael Quartet to a packed Wigmore Hall in May 2010; and a full-length Ballet of 'Winternachtstraum' for Bern Ballet's winter season. Gabriel lives in Hackney, London with his partner and their two young children, and 3 month old baby.
Effy Efthymiou, Composer
Effy Efthymiou is a British composer who works in both electronic and acoustic sound, and across the genres of concert music, installation, film, dance and theatre. Her work has been performed at, among others, Royal Festival Hall, Kings Place, Sage Gateshead, National Maritime Museum, and Handel House Museum. Effy has won awards from PRS Women Make Music, Arts Council England, The Wellcome Trust, the National Lottery and The Scarman Trust to create, write the music for, produce and direct large-scale multidisciplinary projects, working with artists from the fields of theatre, dance and film. She holds a first class degree in Composition from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where she studied under Stephen Montague, Andrew Poppy and Paul Newland, with scholarships from the Leverhulme and TCM Trusts. Effy has worked with the Philharmonia Orchestra, touring the UK with leading composers and performers to conduct composition workshops in schools, prisons and youth centres.