Born in New York, Cynthia Lee Wong has attracted international acclaim for her “shamelessly beautiful” music and devotion toward “not only the avant-garde audience, but…all music lovers” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Wong has composed for a range of genres, including music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance, voice, narrator, musical theater, and piano improvisation.
A grand prize winner of iSING! 2020 composition competition, her song “Snow on the River” was premiered in China on a staged, multimedia concert with the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, featuring solo soprano and solo zhonghu (alto erhu). The premiere was broadcast worldwide on February 26, 2021, as a CCTV 4 production of the Lunar New Year Celebration.
Her music has received praise for its “original[ity]” (Miami Herald), “buzzing excitement” (Peninsula Reviews),“ sheer, oscillating textures” (The New York Times),“ elegant and communicative grace” (Il Giornale di Vicenza),“ impressive energy and drive” (The Boston Globe), and “unsettling…dark, eerie…highly individual sound universe” (The San Diego Union-Tribune).
Commissions include Unity in Diversity (2020) for Assabet Valley Mastersingers and In A Blink of An Eye (2020) for River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. Unity in Diversity, for chorus and orchestra, features texts by American poet Sara Teasdale (first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in Poetry), English poet William Wordsworth, and Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore (first Asian to win the Nobel Prize). Unity in Diversity and Wong’s orchestral work Fates & Furies (revised in 2020) will receive premieres in 2021.
In 2016, Wong’s futuristic comedy No Guarantees with librettist Richard Aellen received funding from OPERA America’s Opera Grants for Female Composers program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation. In 2018, five scenes from No Guarantees received sold-out performances as a work-in-progress by Opera Theater Workshop and Nevada Conservatory Theatre at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
From 2013-2015, Wong was selected for New Voices, a multi-organizational initiative with New World Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and Boosey & Hawkes. As part of the residency, she received mentorship from Boosey & Hawkes as well as chamber and orchestral commissions.
From 2010-2011, Wong received a Project 440 commission in which her piece Memoriam, dedicated to her late father along with all cancer survivors and caregivers, was premiered on opening night by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra at Stern Auditorium, Carnegie Hall.
Past commissions and premieres include works for the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, Portland Symphony, Orchestra del Teatro Olimpico, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Tanglewood Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society, New York State Music Teachers Association, Mivos Quartet, and Tokyo String Quartet.
A graduate of the accelerated 5-year B.M./M.M. program at Juilliard, Wong received her Ph.D. as an Enhanced Chancellor’s Fellow at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She studied composition with Samuel Adler, Milton Babbitt, David Del Tredici, David Olan, and Larry Thomas Bell, as well as piano with Tatyana Dudochkin, Frank Levy, and Martin Canin. Wong was also a participant in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop.
As an educator, Wong has taught at Baruch College, City University of New York, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China, and the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. She was also Master Teacher at ˜National YoungArts Week 2018 and Artistic Director at YoungArts Miami Classical Instrumental 2019 program.