Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Music/Sound 2021

Du Yun

A portrait of Du Yun surrounded by green palm tree leaves. Dressed in black tulle material, the artist wears a crown of green moss and magenta orchids. The make-up surrounding her eyes is a heavy neon green color.
Photo by Zhen Qin.
  • 2021 Grants to Artists
  • Music/Sound
  • Composer, Performer, Advocator
  • Born 1977, Shanghai, China
  • Lives in New York, NY
  • Additional Information
  • This award is supported by the FCA Friends.

Artist Statement

Any statements out of 2020 seem like an afterthought.

I could only whisper to you that I am myself a home.

Home is not a place of surrounding myself with walls but to invite other people in.

I, too, hope you will resonate your reverberance and lineage in my voice. And in them, we find a place of refuge, and then some blossoming strength.

- December 2020


Du Yun works at the intersection of opera, orchestral, theater, cabaret, musical, oral tradition, public performances, electronics, visual arts, and noise. Her work is known for its originality and social consciousness.

Du Yun’s second opera, Angel’s Bone (2017), tells the story of a couple from middle-America who find two angels in their backyard. After nursing the angels back to health, they clip their wings and exploit them to make money. The work integrates a wide range of musical styles with a libretto by Royce Vavrek; it won a Pulitzer Prize in Music.

A community champion, Du Yun was a founding member of the International Contemporary Ensemble and currently serves on its board. She served as the Artistic Director of the Music at the Anthology Festival (2014-2018); conceived the Pan Asia Sounding Festival (launched by National Sawdust); and founded FutureTradition Initiative, a global initiative that illuminates the provenance lineages of folk art and uses these structures to build cross-regional collaborations from the ground up.

As an avid performer and the bandleader of Ok Miss, her onstage persona was described by the New York Times as “an indie pop diva with an avant-garde edge.” Sweet Land, her collaborative opera with composer Raven Chacon and The Industry, was named a 2020 “best classical moment” by the Los Angeles Times. Du Yun was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the Best Classical Contemporary Composition category for “Air Glow” from her album Dinosaur Scar (2019). She was named Artist of the Year by the Beijing Music Festival (2019), a Guggenheim Fellow in Music Composition (2018), and a Great Immigrant Honoree by the Carnegie Corporation of New York (2018). Her studio albums were named “year end notable recording” by The New Yorker, in 2017, 2018, and 2020.

Du Yun received a Ph.D. in music composition from Harvard University. She is Professor of Composition at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University and a distinguished visiting professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

On the stage a children's choir is separated in two groups by a projection of pink and purple swirls in a grassy environment. Closest to the viewer a figure with their back turned, dressed in high heels and a dress directs the choir with their hand.

Performance still from Disruption as Rapture, at Lahore Fort, Lahore, Pakistan, 2016. Performers: Du Yun, Ali Sethi, and a children’s choir. Photo courtesy of the artist.

A dim lit space has a projection on the entire wall of pink and blue swirls. On the other wall a figure surrounded by multiple musical instruments plays a string instrument.

Performance still from The Last Post, at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, 2011. Photo courtesy of Shahzia Sikander.

A person dressed in black at the center of the image with their back turned to the viewer watches people dressed in beige as they sit around tables that form a circle. They are situated in an open dome theater,lighted by multiple candles in every corner. Across the person dressed in black the word 'feast' shines in white neon light.

Performance still from opera Sweet Land, at Los Angeles State Historic Park, Los Angeles, 2020. Photo by Casey Kringlen, courtesy of The Industry.

Day 198杜韵+完美错, in collaboration with OK MISS, 2020. Performers: Shayna E. Dunkelman, Grey Mcmurray, Ava Mendoza Aakash Mittal, featured poem, Separated­, by Nikola Madzirov.

Trailer for And then, All is Blossoming 原来姹紫嫣红, in collaboration with Hana S. Kim and Spa Theory, 2020. Performer: Shen Shihua.

A performer dressed in purple velvet and glasses exclaims in a microphone. A blurred orchestra sits behind him.

Performance still from Where We Lost Our Shadowsحيث لا ظل لنا, at SoundState Festival, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London Southbank Centre, London, 2019. Performer: Ali Sethi. Photo courtesy of Aurora Orchestra.

The Human Journey Du Yun & Khaled Jarraron on Where We Lost Our Shadows, at The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, 2019. Video by Storyline, Inc.