Bright Sheng

Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music


Bright Sheng is a composer, conductor, and pianist. In April of 1999, he received a special commission from the White House to create a new work for a state dinner, hosted by the president, honoring the Chinese Premiere Zhou Rongji. In October 2001, Sheng was named a MacArthur Fellow. He was also invited to compose music for the opening ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Sheng’s music has been regularly and widely performed throughout the world by such prestigious groups as the New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Chicago Symphony; Cleveland Orchestra; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Philadelphia Orchestra; San Francisco Symphony; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Minnesota Symphony; St. Louis Symphony; Los Angeles Chamber Symphony; New York Chamber Symphony; St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; San Francisco Opera; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Houston Grand Opera; Santa Fe Opera; New York City Opera; New York City Ballet; San Francisco Ballet; Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Winnipeg Symphony; Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; Orchestra Sinfonica dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia; London BBC Symphony Orchestra; London Sinfonietta; Hamburg Symphony; NDR Symphony of Hamburg; Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra; St. Petersburg Philharmonic; National Symphony of Russia; Warsaw Symphony; Danish National Radio Symphony; Frankfurt Radio Symphony; Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra; Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra; Bern Symphony Orchestra; Finnish Radio Symphony; Luxembourg Philharmonic; National Symphony of Spain; Orqesta Sinfonica de Bilbao; Gulbenkian Orchestra (Portugal); Slovenian Radio & TV Symphony; Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra; Singapore Symphony Orchestra; Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra; Seoul Philharmonic; and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra; Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra; China National Symphony; and Orchestra of National Opera of Greece, among others. His work has been performed by distinguished musicians including Leonard Bernstein; Christoph Eschenbach; Kurt Masur; Charles Dutoit; Leonard Slatkin; Michael Tilson Thomas; Gerard Schwarz; David Zinman; Neeme Jarvi; David Robertson; Robert Spano; Marin Alsop; Eiji Oue; Bramwell Tovey; Jeffery Kahane; Thomas Dasgaard; Hugh Wolff; Arthur Fagen; Jahja Lin; Sakari Oramo; Muhai Tang; Carl St. Clair; Shui Lan; Yo Yo Ma; Emanuel Ax; Peter Serkin; Yefim Brofman; Evelyn Glennie; Lynn Harrell; Richard Stoltzman; Edgar Meyer; Truls Mork; Jane Eaglen; Elisabeth Futral; Joseph Kaiser; and Lauren Flanigan, among others.

Sheng has appeared as conductor and solo pianist with the San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (Russia), Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra (Germany), Hong Kong Philharmonic, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, and China National Symphony, among others, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Tanglewood Music Center. He has also collaborated with such eminent ensembles and individuals as the Emerson Quartet, Takacs Quartet, Shanghai Quartet, St. Petersburg Quartet, Colin Graham (librettist and stage director), Ong Keng Sen (stage director), David Henry Hwang (playwright/librettist), Andrew Porter (librettist), Stan Lai (stage director), Helgi Tomasson (choreographer), and Christopher Wheeldon (choreographer).

In addition to many national and international awards, Sheng has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Naumberg Foundation, Copland Foundation, Michigan Arts Award, and a Rackham fellowship and a fellowship from the Institute for the Humanities from the University of Michigan.

Sheng’s music is exclusively published by G. Schirmer, Inc. and records on the Sony Classical, Decca, Naxos, Telarc, Delos, Koch International, and New World labels. Among his important teachers were Leonard Bernstein (composition and conducting), George Perle, Hugo Weisgall, Chou Wen-Chung, and Jack Beeson.

He is married to Pam Sophie Chen and lives with their daughter Fayfay between Ann Arbor and Manhattan.