Founded in 1961 by its late Director, Mr. Tsuan-nien Chang (1917-1997), The Chinese Music Ensemble of New York has grown from a few music lovers to becoming the oldest and largest Chinese orchestra in the United States. Its present membership of almost fifty musicians play practically every type of Chinese musical instrument.
The Ensemble maintains its standard of excellence through a program of musical exchanges with professional musicians from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Many of its award-winning musicians come from the Conservatory of Music of Shanghai, Beijing, Sichuan, Tienjin and Shenyang, the College of Chinese Culture of Taipei as well as several renowned orchestras in China.
The Ensemble performances range from small ensemble groups of 3-12 musicians all the way to the full orchestra using a wide range of Chinese bowed and plucked strings, wind and percussion instruments. Its repertory ranges from ancient classical to modern compositions spanning some fifteen hundred years of history, as well as folk music of various regions or ethnic groups in China.
One of the main objectives of the ensemble is to introduce the music of China to western audiences. Towards this end, the Ensemble has performed at Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, Town Hall, Asia Society, Carnegie Hall, Newport Music Festival, and Musikfest at Bethlehem, PA. It has appeared at numerous museums, libraries, colleges and schools throughout the Eastern seaboard. The Ensemble holds its Annual Concert in the spring at the Merkin Concert Hall in New York City and the fall Community Concert in Chinatown, free to the public as part of its social commitment.
Because of the importance of preserving and promoting Chinese musical heritage, the Ensemble gives lecture-demonstrations of Chinese music to schools and colleges, and gives free music instrument lessons to schoolchildren during the summer.