CHAO TIAN is a virtuoso of Chinese dulcimer, improvisor, sound designer, and visual artist. Her virtuosity has led to breaking the boundaries and collaborating across artistic disciplines. In her music, she explores the unique sound and technique on Chinese dulcimer to build a multi-dimensional sense in improvisation. Her artistic interest in “Synesthesia in Arts” consist of the topics: connections between visual art and music, musical vocabulary and punctuation of impromptu in cross-disciplinary collaboration, and music in response to conflict and healing.

Chao’s musical journey began at the age of 5 and at age 12 she gained entrance to the Affiliated Middle School of China Conservatory of Music with a major in Chinese dulcimer study. Later she was recommended for immediate admission to China Conservatory of music, where she obtained the Master Degree of Arts in Musical Performance in 2010. As the leader of “Always Folk” ensemble, she identified herself as an inheritor who commit to preserve China’s musical traditions. The band is actively involved in the research of Sizhu music and Nammyam Music in China.


Chao had been worked as a lecturer and director of Arts Education Center at Beijing Languages and Culture University (BLCU) for years. She is one of the founders of Music Department and appointed  officer of Culture Exchange Abroad program. 

Chao had performed in over 30 different countries and regions across the globe and collaborated with numerous acclaimed musicians in many unprecedented projects. She started to blossom her talents in the United States since 2015 and became acclaimed from the prestigious Artist in Residence program at the Strathmore Music Center, MD where she got intrigued by various cultures and genres and enhanced her artistic imagination and creativity.

Chao has contributed to local community with music at church, youth arts program, senior care center, special project for people with and without cognitive and other disabilities. In addition, she devotes to boost the culture exchange activities between U.S and China. The Chinese Ambassador to the United States, Cui Tian Kai wrote for her project Dong Xi 's contribution:

“ ......your performance not only highlighted the complementary between Eastern and Western music, but also presented to the audience a proper blending of the Oriental and Occidental arts and what it could add to the beauty and diversity of our cultural life.....just as the name Dong Xi implies, will inject new inspiration and energy to the ever-close ties between the people of China and America through music.”

 Chao’s recent projects include Dong Xi (East & West)“東西”, Parallel Intersections "平行交接", Trio with Tom Teasley and Shu-Chen Cuff  “三生萬物”, Dots and Lines “点与线”, and she is a band member of Project Locrea "樂创计划".

“Chao Tian’s mastery of the Chinese Hammered Dulcimer is awe inspiring to this GRAMMY® Award winner. I have heard her play Chinese classical music, jazz, old-time American fiddle tunes, Americana song repertoire and calypso. Frankly, she can create anything, but more importantly, it is all played with feeling and panache.”-- Cathy Fink 

“In the history of Strathmore’s highly-praised Artist in Residence program, Chao Tian stands out not only as a extraordinary musician, but also as a brilliant collaborator. She is constantly exploring new musical horizons. I anxiously await her next adventures! ”-- Betty Scott

  • Winner of the First National Contest of Best Youth Professional Musician of China (Chinese Dulcimer Group) in 2001.

  • Awarded Exceptional Artist by Beijing Bureau of culture attending the Chinese festival in Washington DC, 2005.

  • Wen Hua Award by the Ministry of Culture of China in 2008, which is the highest and the most honorable award a Chinese musician can obtain.

  • Awarded Outstanding Graduate and Outstanding Graduate Thesis in 2010.

  • Winner of Best World Music Artist/Group of WAMMIE of 2019.

  • Nominated for 2019 Helen Hayes Award Outstanding Sound Design. (The White Snake, Constellation Theater Company)