Justine F. Chen – Composer and Violinist


Always interested in exploring new dramatic forms, recent projects for Justine F. Chen include a song cycle/monodrama for soprano Jennifer Zetlan PHILOMEL, taken from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and her second opera JEANNE, a fractured account of the life of Joan of Arc.

Her first operatic work, computer-enhanced chamber opera, THE MAIDEN TOWER, initially presented at Juilliard, was featured in New York City Opera's VOX 2006: Showcasing American Composers, and had its international première in Montréal with Chants Libres in December 2008.  When featured in NYCO's VOX 2008, the New York Times described JEANNE as "lyrical, atmospheric... striking… Throughout, Ms. Chen balances despair and humor."

As composer-in-residence for Long Leaf Opera, she was commissioned to write a youth opera.  Three, Two, One - BANG!, a modern teenage American adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth, premiered in 2008 and was praised by the Classical Voice of North Carolina as "charming and provocative… practical and entrancing." 

Organizations who have commissioned and performed her music include New York City Opera, New York City Ballet, The Juilliard School, New York Festival of Song, New Juilliard Ensemble, Washington Ballet, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. 

For the theater, she has written the incidental music for numerous productions, including a score for Playwright's Theater of New Jersey's run of James Glossman's THE SPECIAL PRISONER, which juxtaposed traditional musical aesthetics of Noh theater with soundscapes of the modern world.  In 2001, she scored digital artist Yewon Cho's animation TRILEMMA, which was screened at the Hiroshima Animation Festival, New York Expo, Student Academy Awards, and broadcast on PBS's "Reel New York".  On OF ROOTS AND STONES, one of her numerous dance collaborations performed by the Juilliard Dance department, the NY Times wrote, "Chen... blended popular dance rhythms into the kind of propulsive, emotionally resonant score that choreographers tend to dream of."

Formal training in violin and composition began at Juilliard's Pre-College Division, and in dance at the School of American Ballet.  In 2005, she completed her doctoral studies in composition at Juilliard, where she also earned her BM and MM in violin and composition.

Ms. Chen is currently working on a new children's opera for North Carolina Opera, commissioned for performance in 2010-2011.