Composer, performer, sound and visual artist Yiran ZHAO (China), lives and works in Europe.


She is supported by the Ernst von Siemens Stiftung as composer-in-residence and concert curator for the “Forum of Younger Composers 2016” at the Bavarian Academy of Arts. She is recipient of the State Stipend China 2010, the Deutschlandstipendium 2013/14, Stipend of the Hochschule für Musik Basel 2014, and Akademie der Künste Berlin 2017; Prizewinner of the Ensemble Recherche Composition Competition 2008, Con Tempo Young Chamber Music Competition China 2009, “Yanhuang” Composition Competition China 2010, the Karlsruhe Composition Competition 2015, and is the “Stadtskomponistin” for the city of Unna (Germany) in 2017.


She studied composition in China and Europe with Guoping JIA, Caspar Johannes Walter, Erik Oña, and Carola Bauckholt, as well as organ with Jörg-Hannes Hahn. She taught individual courses and presented workshops in summer 2017 at the Festival Internacional Bergerault in Spain as resident composer. Within the frame of the KUNSTWELTEN from the Akademie der Künste in Berlin, she is leading workshops for primary-school students in Bitterfeld-Wolfen. She has worked with numerous artists, groups, and festivals in Europe, Asia, and North America; including Ensemble Musikfabrik, Ensemble Recherche, Ensemble Phoenix Basel, Ensemble Garage, ensemble this ensemble that, the Philharmonia Chorus Stuttgart, Iktus Percussion, Festival Internacional Zaragoza Contemporánea, ZEIT RÄUME Basel Biennale für neue Musik und Architektur, WIEN MODERN, Progressive Art HA-SS Fest Armenia, and many others.


Her works focus on various modes of expression incorporating both musical and performative elements, lighting, visual arts, and other media. With great interest in the physicality of performance, since she came to Europe she started to work with the human body and objects as compositional material. The first piece is Verwickelte Synästhesie (2012) for conductor quartet, which presents the 8 hands of 4 conductors lead by and leading each other in different tempi and groups simultaneously. The rhythmical body movements express musical impulse clearly without instruments. 2013 in the Fluxus project in cooperation with Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, she presented her Fluxus portrait-concert “NO INSTRUMENT, NO CONCERT HALL” with a series of body-performance pieces in the revolving door, foyer, and cafeteria of the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Stuttgart. Since her stay in Basel, light and interaction became important materials in works combining with scenic elements. Ohne Stille II (2014) is based in this period, it is written for a bass drum with live lighting inside and on the stage, manipulated and moved as a visual and auditive body by 2 percussionists. SHH I (2015) is an interactive piece for a head, the ‘instruments’ are the hair, ears and the skin on the face of the audience member. A very special situation in this piece is that the player himself can’t hear his performance, but instead feels it from his hands/fingers. For the single audience member who is played, he/she can not only hear it, but especially also feel it. Later she worked on several more pieces involving instruments and objects, such as OBSERVABLES (2016) for 3 performers, 3 audience members, and light;  Fluctuation Ia (2016) for cookie can and ensemble; and Inverse (2017) for lighting laptops and musicians. With the dancer Kai-Chun Chuang she worked very intensely with choreographic movements for the Gesamtkunstwerk Pluri- (2016/17) for dance, video, and sound. It builds up multiple layers of materials, which relate to one another interactively: the large white field of the rear projection surface is one layer, over which the smaller screen, as well as the performer’s physical body, act as different projection surfaces, each of which reflects the projected materials differently. This entire process is mediated through a complex, multilayered rhythmic logic, which plays out through the medium of the dancer and his performative body, interacting across multiple layers of media, musical material, and performative aspect, interacting from different temporal spaces and with itself.