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Chao Tian

Chao Tian


Chao Tian is a Chinese dulcimer musician, improviser, and sound designer. Her dexterity has led to her breaking down barriers and working across creative genres. She explores the distinct sounds and techniques of the Chinese dulcimer to create a multidimensional sensation of improvisation. Her creative interest is mainly in intercultural improvisation study: applications of Chinese musical aesthetics and vocabulary, creative synthesis in cross-disciplinary improvisation: interactions among music, dance, and visual art.

Chao began learning the Chinese dulcimer at the age of five and was admitted to the Middle School Affiliated with the Chinese Conservatory of Music at the age of twelve. She received her BA in music performance and her MA in musicology at China Conservatory of Music. Chao was a music faculty and the director of the Arts Education Center at Beijing Language and Culture University. She is pursuing her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology at Boston University and mainly focus on critical imporvsiation study.

Chao has performed in over 30 different countries and regions across the globe. Her reputation grew in the United States in 2015, when she was accepted into the prestigious Artist in Residence program at Strathmore Music Center, where she became fascinated by many cultures and expanded her creative imagination. Chao studied American hammered dulcimer with Karen Ashbrook with the support of the Folklife Apprenticeship Program of the Maryland States Arts Council. She was the NextLOOK Artist at the University of Maryland (2021-2022) and was chosen for Musician Changemaker Accelerator Academy 2024.

Chao’s latest project Unheard Sounds is dedicated to better exploring the transformation of artistic language in cross-disciplinary collaboration. Her projects  also include From China to Appalachia with two-time GRAMMY winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, this project is newly selected for Tour Artist of the Mid-Atlantic Foundation; Dong Xi (East and West) with world percussionist Tom Teasley, they won The Best World Music Artist/ Group of the WAMMIE Award 2020 and the nominees for Outstanding Sound Design of the 2020 Helen Hayes Award; Parallel Intersections with tropical steelpan musician Josanne Francis; Dots and Lines with British American violinist Dave Kline. She is the band leader of Always Folk Ensemble and a band member of the awarded world-folk fusion ensemble Project Locrea.

Professional Experience

  • Regional
  • Concerts/Cabaret
  • Education
  • Tours


  • D.C./Baltimore Area
  • Boston/New England

Interested in touring?

  • Yes

Hireable as

  • Sound Designer/Composer
  • Other

My Instruments

  • Other
  • Chinese dulcimer; American hammered dulcimer; Persian Santur; Chinese percussion


  • Logic
  • Sibelius

Current HS, College, or Grad Student?

  • Yes


  • She/Her