March 13, 2003 |
The classical music world has long sought to find a place in our videocentric age. It's been a cinch for opera, but symphony orchestras have seemed unable to add a visual element without creating a distraction or literalizing music's special way of communicating beyond images. But widely acclaimed composer Tan Dun has succeeded, at least tentatively, with a 10-movement, 45-minute concerto for cello, video and orchestra elegantly titled The Map. This is to be expected from someone who composes with apparent ease and great dramatic invention for all occasions, from his Bach-inspired oratorio Water Passion to his Oscar-winning score for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
November 12, 2004 |
Chinese composer Tan Dun wrote "The Map," a concerto for cello, video and orchestra, as a cultural collision of modern and ancient sounds. He'll conduct it with the Philadelphia Orchestra along with two Russian works derived from the distant past: Shostakovich's Overture on Russian and Kirghiz Folk Themes, and Borodin's ravishing "Polovtsian Dances. " While collecting folk songs throughout his native Hunan province in 1981, Tan met and became fascinated with an elderly stone drummer whom he perceived as a virtual map of ancient China.
November 15, 2010 |
A 21st-century micro-symphony? An extremely eventful fanfare? A soundtrack to a yet-to-be-made film? All such descriptions apply to Tan Dun's Internet Symphony No. 1 ("Eroica") , which, typical of this composer, is as interesting to explain as it is to hear. Tan conducted the local premiere Friday as part of the Philadelphia Orchestra's multimedia Sound Waves series, along with The Map, his 2002 concerto for cello, video, and orchestra, which has aged in curious ways since last heard here five years ago. The Internet Symphony warrants a reprieve from the unwritten rule that composers should never talk about a piece for longer than it takes to perform.
September 16, 2005 |
With 120 instruments on stage, Orchestra 2001 is launching its season with a scintillating flourish. And the only composer around who would imagine scoring for such forces is our own George Crumb, whose ethereal and unique works have been a staple of the ensemble's concerts and recordings. Conducted by James Freeman, and featuring soprano Barbara Ann Martin, Orchestra 2001 will present the first U.S. performances of Crumb's American Songbook IV. The work was dedicated to the ensemble and premiered by them last month in Austria at the Salzburg Summer Festival, where they were the only American group invited to perform.
April 16, 2008 |
Success was all but decreed for Chinese composer Tan Dun and his Piano Concerto, premiered over the weekend by Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic. Philip Glass returned to the grand opera stage with a new production of Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera, and the young, pierced-and-tattooed audience - plus a flock of Tibetan monks - were all set to adore the opera, seemingly no matter what happened. Both events had more in common than their prestigious circumstances. These composers seem oddly immune to failure.
November 12, 1997 |
Marco Polo, unveiled at New York City Opera over the weekend, is a heady amalgam of East meets West. Strings twang and singers squeal so artfully at the start of composer Tan Dun and librettist Paul Griffiths' creation, it's easy to think you've wandered into a performance of the centuries-old Beijing Opera. Only these stutters and wails of sung speech, Chinese-style, are in English. The Chinese sonorities don't go on for too long before seguing, seamlessly, into Western orchestral and operatic styles, and there are stretches when the principals sing in Italian, too. You can catch whiffs of Mahler and Richard Strauss in Tan Dun's writing; the composer, now based in New York, spent part of his career with a Beijing Opera troupe after two years in Mao's rice paddies (where he's said to have made music on tin pots)
September 20, 2005 |
You know that when a galvanized steel tub of water gets pulled out on stage, you're probably going to be hearing a piece by Tan Dun. In classical music today, Tan pretty much owns the idea of water as a musical instrument, or at least as a means of conducting sound. The Chinese-born New York composer of the score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon used water Sunday night to modify the sound of a gong as it was being partially submerged. Great sound. But much of Tan Dun's success also has to do with manipulating another volatile element: the audience.
October 30, 2013 |
With three video screens, the full Philadelphia Orchestra, and harp soloist Elizabeth Hainen to keep track of in Verizon Hall, conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin might need a GPS to know where to turn next. The occasion is Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for Micro Films, Harp and Orchestra , by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Besides documenting a 1,000-year-old language that women sing only to one another in remote parts of China, the piece is also "a kind of art installation," says the Oscar-winning composer of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon , "because my screen is also a Chinese scroll painting.
November 9, 2010 |
Having taken note of Chinese composers early in their international emergence, Orchestra 2001 now builds programs that go beyond obvious repertoire, take outsize chances, and achieve performances that get past the exoticism of the melodies and strangeness of their glissandi. The unlikely arrival point at Sunday's "Chinese Visions" program at Swarthmore College wasn't so much the angst of the Chinese soul, but a sense of play. In no way does this trivialize the achievements at hand. The illusion of ricochet impulsiveness from pipa virtuoso Wu Man came from her great command of her instrument and clarity of purpose.
November 10, 2004 |
Music that has to be seen as well as heard - as conventional suspicions go - may not be worth hearing, particularly in classical-music circles. In the case of The Map, Tan Dun's "video concerto" that receives its local premiere by the Philadelphia Orchestra tomorrow, the music on screen comes from rocks banging together. And blown leaves. And profuse weeping. Sometimes, you just have to trust the composer. This one, at age 47, is the most successful to come out of China. He has a dozen, major-label CDs devoted to his works, writes music for hit films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, is championed by Yo-Yo Ma and Lang Lang, and has a commission from the Metropolitan Opera.