ⓘ Betty Ann Wong. A native of San Francisco, Wong and her twin sister Shirley grew up speaking Cantonese at home as well as English. Wong began piano lessons at a ..


ⓘ Betty Ann Wong

A native of San Francisco, Wong and her twin sister Shirley grew up speaking Cantonese at home as well as English. Wong began piano lessons at age 7 with Eva Chan, then studied with Lev Shorr. She received a B.A. in music from Mills College in 1960, where she studied with Morton Subotnick, Nathan Rubin, and Colin Hampton, and performed with Hysteresis, a womens creative arts group that included several Bay-area artists. In 1971, she completed a masters degree in music at the University of California San Diego, where she studied composition with Pauline Oliveros, Robert Erickson, and Kenneth Gaburo. Wong also studied Chinese music with David Liang, Lawrence Lui, and Leo Lew.


1. Career

In addition to piano, Wong plays sitar, guzheng, saz a Turkish lute, kanjira and several other traditional Asian instruments. She has worked as a piano teacher at the San Francisco Music Conservatory and the University of California San Diego. She has also worked as an arts and crafts instructor and coordinator for the Community Center Chinese Music Workshops, where she and her sister, Shirley began teaching Chinese music in 1973. The workshops were a joint project of the Community Center and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, funded through a Rockefeller grant.

With Shirley, Wong co-manages and performs with the Flowing Stream Ensemble, a sizhu traditional silk and bamboo orchestra which was founded in 1973. Wong visited New Delhi in 1974 and became interested in Hindustani music. She returned to California and took classes at the Center for World Music at the Julian Morgan Theater in Berkeley, California. Wong founded the Phoenix Spring Ensemble in 1977 to integrate European classical music, American jazz improvisation, and extended instrumental techniques with traditional Chinese music.

Wong composed film scores for the Academy Award-winning movie producers Allie Light and Irving Saraf. In 1988, she received the Hollywood Dramalogue Critics Award for Outstanding Achievement for Original Music Theater for her work with the American Conservatory Theaters production of Eugene ONeills Marco Millions. She has directed the Pursuit of Excellence Concert Series since 1990. Wong is also a board member of the Junior Bach Society.


2. Works

Wongs works include:


  • The Magic of Chinese Music 1975
  • "Possible Music for a Silent World" an essay in Break Glass in Case of Fire: The Anthology From the Center for Contemporary Music ; 1978


  • Desert Dreams of Light
  • In Xinjiang Time Phoenix Spring Ensemble in collaboration with Melody of China Ensemble; 2004


  • Check One: People Control the Environment, People are Controlled by the Environment tape; 1970
  • Submerged, Still Capable tape; 1969


  • Mad Tea Party film and tape
  • Quiet Places in the Environment
  • Dear Friends of Music, This is Your Piece as well as Mine with audience participation; 1971
  • Private Audience with Pope Pius XII tape and slides; 1971
  • All Sound is Music When You Let it Flow
  • Furniture Music or Two-Way Stretch on a Swivel Chair tape and visuals; 1971
  • Riding on to Glory film and tape


  • Village, Interracial, Big Wheels tape
  • Music for the Good Citizen an adaptation of The Good Woman of Setzuan by Bertolt Brecht

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