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Born on the "Piano Island" of Gulangyu Island in Xiamen, Fujian, in the People's Republic of China. Although trained as a classical pianist, he is perhaps best known to the West through the Yellow River Piano Concerto he arranged based on the Yellow River Cantata and performed in many Western theaters since the 1980s.
Yin started learning the piano in 1948 when he was seven years old, and gave his first recital at the age of nine. At twelve, he joined the preparatory school of Shanghai Conservatory of Music. In 1959, Yin won an award at the World Youth Peace and Friendship Festival in Vienna, Austria, and in 1960, he was sent to the Leningrad Conservatory to study. In 1962, he and American pianist Susan Starr were the second-prize winners of the International Tchaikovsky Competition (Vladimir Ashkenazy shared the first-prize with British pianist John Odgon). In 1965, Yin joined the Central Symphony Orchestra of China as a soloist.
During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), Yin's name changed by “殷诚忠”.When all Western arts and forms were forbidden, Yin ingeniously found an application of his talent: he created the piano-accompanied version of The Legend of the Red Lantern, one of the Eight model plays, the only plays, operas and ballets which were permitted during the period. Although, musically speaking, there was not much originality in the work, it was refreshing for genuine music lovers who were longing to have access to Western music. Another creation attributed to Yin is the now well-known Yellow River Piano Concerto. Yin and other members of a special committee arranged this work in 1969 based on the Yellow River Cantata by Xian Xinghai. In the final movement of the concerto, Yin incorporated the melody The East Is Red. The instruments used, the piano and the orchestra, were all Western, but the music was heavily influenced by Chinese folk melodies.
In 1983, following difficulties with the new regime due to his alleged closeness to the Gang of Four, Yin immigrated to the US, and in the same year, he made his debut in Carnegie Hall in New York City. Yin has since performed under the baton of Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, Claudio Abbado and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Kirill Kondrashin and the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and Sir Malcolm Sargent and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Yin has also appeared in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, and at Lincoln Center. His solo performances were featured on China Central Television and CBS Sunday Morning. Formerly a professor and artist-in-residence at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Mr. Yin now lives in New York City.
Yin has released more than 20 albums, including an all-Chopin CD, a recording of Debussy's Preludes, and the Yellow River Concerto.