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Tan Dun

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NEWS
March 13, 2003 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 12, 2004 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
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.
NEWS
November 15, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
September 16, 2005 | By TOM DI NARDO For the Daily News
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.
NEWS
April 16, 2008 | By David Patrick Stearns INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
November 12, 1997 | By Lesley Valdes, INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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)
NEWS
September 20, 2005 | By Peter Dobrin INQUIRER MUSIC CRITIC
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.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 30, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
NEWS
June 9, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
BEIJING - Nicholas Platt may have a longer association with the evolving Chinese culture than anyone currently in the U.S. diplomatic corps. He was here in 1972 during President Richard Nixon's first visit, and lived in China for years after before ambassadorial appointments took him elsewhere. Given his recent advisory relationship with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he's able to discuss a question often asked in symphonic circles these days: Is China the future of Western classical music?
NEWS
November 9, 2010 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
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ENTERTAINMENT
February 12, 2015 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The East-meets-West nexus in classical music still comes with so much creative leeway and remains so uncodified that a program titled "New Music From Asia" means that the only possible preconceived notion is the complete lack of one. In fact, the best-known composer in Orchestra 2001's Sunday program in Swarthmore delivered the most unexpected sounds. In Distance by Tan Dun sounded nothing like the composer's recent concert works (not to mention his Oscar-winning film music) - thanks to a particularly strong Chinese accent.
NEWS
December 15, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Remember the era, way back in the 20th century, when the classical-music world seemed to proceed with majestic sameness? When Eugene Ormandy and the Fabulous Philadelphians seemed to go on forever, one Scheherazade at a time? Such stability and artistic centralization are certainly long gone. But in their place? Much fascinating new music - in odd and interesting places. Best? Worst? All one can really discuss are milestones. And here are some from 2014: Concertos that change your life.
NEWS
June 1, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
SHENZHEN, China - Stopping traffic in the six-lane boulevards of this fast-moving Chinese city of 15 million requires an iron will and a Buddhist faith that the natural order of things will fall in your favor. So it happened, en route to rehearsal Thursday, that a Philadelphia Orchestra bus broke down but another was close behind. It pulled alongside the first with a lane in between so the musicians could exit one and board the other, while the drivers fended off aggressive motorists itching to claim that lane for themselves.
NEWS
May 29, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
CHANGSHA, China - The event status of the Philadelphia Orchestra's local premiere of Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women was so intense Tuesday, it was hard to tell how many people truly experienced the music. It was a perfect media-frenzy storm: The Philadelphians are the first U.S. orchestra ever to play in this capital city of the Hunan province, the hometown of Nu Shu composer Tan Dun, who lived through the Cultural Revolution to become an Oscar-winning film-score composer for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . His new piece is composed around a series of videos shot in a mountain village where there are women who still speak and write the centuries-old nu shu language, little documented and used almost exclusively among themselves.
NEWS
May 24, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
BEIJING - The Philadelphia Orchestra is used to veneration in China, but not like this. The orchestra was said to be "rewriting the history of our musical life" by Patrick Ren, executive director of programming at Beijing's National Centre for the Performing Arts. Facing a battery of TV cameras Thursday morning, he said, "Every time they walk on stage, they are in some way . . . creating a new epoch. " His comment indicates that Year Three of the Philadelphia Orchestra's five-year plan with the National Centre is anything but redundant.
ENTERTAINMENT
April 23, 2014 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
If it's spring, the Philadelphia Orchestra must be headed for China. In the third year of its five-year agreement with the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, the orchestra opens its 21/2-week tour there on May 21, travels on to Shanghai, then plunges into less-well-charted cities - and formats - before ending with traditional concerts in Tokyo and Taipei, Taiwan, concluding June 5. The provincial Chinese cities include Changsha...
ENTERTAINMENT
November 6, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
The language couldn't be more foreign; the music's tightly wound harmonies don't conform to typical notions of beauty. Yet there's nothing mysterious, obscure, or less than infectious about Opera Philadelphia's Svadba ( A Wedding) , sung in Serbian and based on the piercing folk music of a place where people needed to be heard calling from one mountain to another. The beauty of Svadba , at least at Saturday's opening in the new FringeArts building, lay in its unguarded, uninhibited, often-exuberant humanity.
NEWS
November 3, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
Empty seats - not a huge number but more than usual for this season - were to be expected at the Philadelphia Commissions concerts at Verizon Hall. Though this city hosts substantial festivals of John Cage and Morton Feldman, more mainstream audiences didn't break down the Kimmel Center doors Thursday for the Philadelphia Orchestra's three new concertos featured in this week's concerts, even though Tan Dun's piece was a multimedia crowd-pleaser and music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances with such a compelling Russian accent that it, alone, was worth the concert.
ENTERTAINMENT
October 30, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
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.
NEWS
June 9, 2013 | By David Patrick Stearns, Inquirer Music Critic
BEIJING - Nicholas Platt may have a longer association with the evolving Chinese culture than anyone currently in the U.S. diplomatic corps. He was here in 1972 during President Richard Nixon's first visit, and lived in China for years after before ambassadorial appointments took him elsewhere. Given his recent advisory relationship with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he's able to discuss a question often asked in symphonic circles these days: Is China the future of Western classical music?
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