“popularizes Kazakh music tradition” (Kazakhstan International News Agency, Kazinform) and writes music that uniquely combines elements of Eurasian and South-East Asian cultures. She is the first Chinese classical composer of Dungan descent (an underrepresented ethnic minority group from Central Asia) to have received international recognition.Meilina Tsui (b. 1993) is an award-winning composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter, radio producer and presenter, and advocate for youth artistic development. Born in Kazakhstan and raised in Hong Kong, Meilina is a composer who
Tsui's music, described by The Aspen Times as "irresistible, and emotionally convincing," has been performed and read across Asia, Europe, North America, and the Middle East by leading soloists, ensembles and orchestras, such as the National Symphony Orchestra of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Kazakh State Philharmonic Orchestra, Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra, Aspen Conducting Academy Orchestra, PHACE Ensemble, Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, Romer String Quartet, TURAN Ethno-folk Ensemble, Windpipe Chinese Music Ensemble, Lontano Ensemble, Ivory Duo Piano Ensemble, Nancy Loo & Mary Wu Piano Duo, Quartetto Indaco, Israeli Chamber Project, Mivos Quartet, Kazakh State String Quartet, Radio Television Hong Kong Chamber Soloists, and MR. Quartet & City Contemporary Dance Company, members of Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Irvine Arditti, Renée Fleming Artist, Key'mon W. Murrah, and broadcast by NAXOS Music & Video Libraries, London arts radio "Resonance fm," RTHK Radio 4 and Channel 31.
In recent years, Tsui’s Nomadic Trails for chamber orchestra has won the 2022 ASCAP Foundation Morton Gould Young Composer Award and the 2021 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award from the University of Michigan. In 2018, her String Quartet No. 2 "Kazakh Steppe" won the “Audience Vote” Prize at the Intimacy of Creativity Festival in Hong Kong, where she was a Composer Fellow, the "I Creation Mivos Quartet Composition Prize” in New York City, the "Musicus Society Call For Scores" in Hong Kong, was selected out of 2,200 works for the "Kaleidoscope Chamber Orchestra Call for Scores" in Los Angeles, and was a finalist for the 2020 “ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award.” The piece has had its premieres in Italy, Hong Kong, Kazakhstan, New York City, Los Angeles, Ann Arbor and Tel-Aviv. In celebration of the HKSAR’s 20th anniversary in 2017, she was the youngest and only female composer featured at the London “HK Music Series.”
Tsui often tries to enrich the abilities of Western musical instruments by inventing new compositional techniques and imitating the sounds of traditional Central Asian instruments. She has also been a pioneer in combining Kazakh, Chinese and Western instruments in her music. Besides the many cultural influences and inclination towards fusion of tradition with modernity, her music is largely shaped by the principles of socialist humanism and can be described as mostly non-esoteric.
As a strong supporter of cultural and racial diversity and inclusion, Tsui wrote a piece called Ay-Ay, Bopem (A Kazakh Lullaby Without Words), commissioned by leading members of the Lexington Philharmonic and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestras for the ArtsWave Isolation Commissions, centered on themes of racial injustice and cultural healing. Tsui has also received commissions from the Houston Grand Opera, Aspen Music School & Festival, Hong Kong Government Home Affairs Bureau, Hong Kong Arts Development Council, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Radio Television Hong Kong, Musicus Society, Hong Kong Composers Guild and The Chinese University of Hong Kong Art Museum.
International festivals that have featured her work include Asian Composers' League Festival (Vietnam), highSCORE Festival (Italy), Asia-Europe New Music Festival (Russia), All-Russian Young Composers Festival (Russia), Asia Pacific International Songwriting Camp (Taiwan), Intimacy of Creativity (Hong Kong), Vienna Summer Music Festival (Austria), and Aspen Music Festival & School (United States), where she was a Susan & Ford Schumann Centre Composer Fellow.
Tsui earned a B.A. in Music with First-Class Honors from the Chinese University of Hong Kong under the “Hong Kong Jockey Club Scholarship,” a M.Mus. in Composition with Distinction from King’s College London under the “Hong Kong Scholarship for Excellence Scheme,” awarded by the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government, and a D.M.A. in Composition with High Pass from the University of Michigan under the “Hong Kong Jockey Club Music and Dance Fund,” and the “Composers & Authors Society Hong Kong Scholarship.” At University of Michigan, Tsui studied with Professors Bright Sheng and Michael Daugherty, and was a Graduate Student Instructor of Composition, Music Theory, and Aural Skills.