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Recent Research & Publication Projects

Collaborative Research "Artificial Intelligence Technology for Future Music Performers"

Approved for a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in August 2023, this is an ongoing joint-research project I (as Co-PI) am working on with four professors from Purdue University, that aims to transform how musicians practice, collaborate, and perform by using artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Musicians go through five steps in each performance: (1) solo practice, (2) musical experiment, (3) team (ensemble) rehearsal, (4) concert performance, and (5) post-concert analysis. This project will create two AI-based tools for musicians:

  • The Performance Evaluator can detect incorrect intonations and rhythms and suggest solutions to improve sound quality. The Evaluator can also detect incorrect postures.

  • The Chamber Music Companion plays the music of one or several instruments for musicians during solo practice or group rehearsals. The Companion can follow the tempo of the musicians and receive verbal commands to adjust the sound quality and dynamics (e.g., loudness).

  • Both computer tools carry verbal recognition and speaking functions. The Evaluator and the Companion adopt AI and machine learning technology for computer vision, audio analysis, and natural language processing. Machine models such as transformers are used to process sequences of data.

This technology will be particularly helpful to musicians who (1) intend to improve their performing ability in more efficient ways and move to the higher levels of their careers (such as preparing for orchestra auditions) and (2) want to prevent possible injuries (3) have difficulty collaborating with other musicians for rehearsals of chamber performance because of the distance (such as in rural areas)..​

  • Click here for presentation slides prepared by my research partner Dr. Kristen Yeon-Ji Yun.

Music-Art Collaboration "Women in the Arts of Europe from the Twelfth through Seventeenth Centuries "

In collaboration with art historian Brittany Rancour, Dr. Yu co-presented  in the Symposium for Research, Innovation and Creativity and also in the University Forum at Utah Tech University in April 2022.

  • This lecture highlights women's roles in the arts from the medieval to baroque periods. While women have been marginalized in history, our presentation uncovers their active voices. We will look at connections between the visual artworks and musical compositions. The presentation includes live performances of music by such great female composers as Hildegard of Bingen, Francesca Caccini, and Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre.

  • Click here for the presentation PowerPoint slides.

The 5-String Cello Project  

In 2020, Dr. Yu was awarded a Faculty Research Grant on his research project “The 5-String Cello: a Research Project on the Violoncello Piccolo Literature.”

  • The project included performances of J. S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012 originally written for this instrument, as well as cello/string repertoire that would be performed or adapted for the violoncello piccolo. New editions of those pieces may potentially be published.

  • Composers Luke Dahn (University of Utah) and Jennifer Bellor (University of Nevada, Las Vegas) were commissioned to write new compositions for this instrument.

  • The lecture portion of this project included a presentation of the history of the violoncello piccolo and demonstration on the instrument in a public lecture during the Southern Utah Early Music Festival in March 2021 and in the Utah Tech Symposium for Research, Innovation and Creativity.

  • Click here  for a lecture- demo video on the violoncello piccolo by Dr. Yu during the Fresno International Cello Festival 2019

October 17, 2021   Sundays@7 Concert Series at University of Utah - Libby Gardner Concert Hall, 7:00pm

  with Dr. Pamela Jones, harpsichord;  Richard Jones, baroque cello; Dr. Luke Dahn, composer


  • J. S. Bach: Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012

  • Luke Dahn: Five for five-string cello (world première)

  • Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de La Guerre: Sonata No. 2 in D from Sonates Pour le Violon et pour le Clavecin

  • Francesco Geminiani: Cello Sonata in C major, H.105

Recital (livestream) link - click here


November 14, 2021   Recital at University of Nevada, Las Vegas - Doc Rando Recital Hall, 7:30pm

  with Dr. Jonatha Rhodes Lee, fortepiano; Dr. Jennifer Bellor, composer


  • J. S. Bach: Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012

  • Jennifer Bellor: Damselfly (world première)

  • Franz Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata, D. 821

Recital link - click here

November 20, 2021   Recital at Utah Tech University - Dunford Auditorium, 1:00pm

  with Dr. Jonatha Rhodes Lee, fortepiano


  • J. S. Bach: Cello Suite No. 6 in D Major, BWV 1012

  • Jennifer Bellor: Damselfly 

  • Luke Dahn: Five for five-string cello 

  • Franz Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata, D. 821

Recital (livestream) link - click here


Doctoral Thesis

Dr. Ka-Wai Yu’s Doctoral thesis is entitled “When Concerto Meets Song Cycle: A Study of Vocal Influences in Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129, with Reference to his Dichterliebe, Op. 48.” The thesis addresses the long-existing doubts, prejudices and mixed critical views about the value of Schumann’s Cello Concerto and his late music.  It sheds new light by looking closely at the unique musical structure, poetic harmonic language, rhetorical characteristics and song-like orchestration found in the concerto.

Click here for a PDF copy of the thesis, © Copyright by Ka-Wai Yu, 2011

Robert Schumann: Cello Concerto in A Minor, Op. 129, arranged  for cello and string quartet by Ka-Wai Yu, A-R Editions, Inc. (2013)

Abstract: Robert Schumann wrote his Cello Concerto in A Minor, op. 129, in two weeks in 1850, shortly after moving to Düsseldorf to assume the position of city music director. Schumann proposed an arrangement of the piece for solo cello and string quartet to his publisher Breitkopf & Härtel in 1853, but his proposal was rejected. The composer’s conception of a chamber version of the piece, here realized for the first time by Ka-Wai Yu, allows cellists, scholars, and music lovers to enjoy the piece outside an orchestral setting, rediscovering the intimacy and chamber music character of performances in Schumann’s time. The present edition is also a practical version for cellists to become better acquainted with the orchestra part, improve their ensemble skills, or even perform the piece without hiring an orchestra.

The edition is available for purchase at the website of  A-R Editions, Inc

Click here to watch a live recording of this string quartet-accompanied version of Schumann's Cello Concerto.

Violoncello piccolo.JPG
Schumann cello concerto arr. cello & string quartet

Cello Ensemble Music Publication  

With many years of playing in and directing a cello ensemble of 10 up to 120 cellists on stage, Dr. Yu has transcribed many works for cello ensemble.  The Ovation Press, a publisher based in Illinois, has published many of his transcriptions such as Beethoven’s Allegretto from Symphony No. 7 for cello octet and Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 2 in D Major for cello quintet.  Please visit Ovation Press or contact Dr. Yu for more details and to purchase a copy of his transcriptions.

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