2009 Florida Folk Heritage Award
Ann Yao plays the zheng, a zither that is one the most ancient musical instruments in China. Born into a family of musicians in Shanghai, she grew up immersed in Chinese folk and classical music. She moved to the U.S. in 1985, and two years later began performing with Music From China, an innovative ensemble that promotes modern Chinese musical culture while preserving ancient Chinese music. Together, they have performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yao moved to Orlando in 1990, where she has been a zheng soloist at Disney’s Epcot Center in the China Pavilion, among other venues. She also participated in a documentary project about Tang (618-907 A.D.) music, and has played at numerous prestigious institutions, including the Library of Congress and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.