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.