Tan Dun Celebrates the Chinese (Lunar) New Year

Tan Dun Celebrates the Chinese (Lunar) New Year
Prayers and simple offerings during Chinese New Year
Credit: ProjectManhattan
This February, composer Tan Dun joins in celebrating the Chinese (Lunar) New Year by conducting concerts in New York City and Melbourne.

On February 9 in the USA, the New York Philharmonic gives the New York premiere of Tan Dun's concerto Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women. Long Yu conducts, Nancy Allen is the harp soloist. Nu Shu is a 13th-century language created by women in Hunan, China, which Tan Dun explores with 13 micro films and harp. In a period where illiteracy rates were high in China, this language — exclusive to women — was actually a singing language, and helped them convey secret messages to one another.

On February 14 in Australia, Melbourne's Hammer Hall hosts its annual celebration with Tan Dun leading the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in his The Map: Concerto for Cello, Video and Orchestra with soloist Li Wei Qin. Tan Dun says The Map represents "minority cultures in China, looking at the past as well as the future." It combines ethnic rural tradition with a modern urban style.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra recently released the premiere recording of Contrabass Concerto: The Wolf with soloist Dominic Seldis. In the concerto, inspired by Jiang Rong’s Chinese novel Wolf Totem, the solo part represents the Mongolian Wolf in its natural habitat, which Tan Dun feels mirrors our human spirit in relation to the natural world.

After the New Year, Tan Dun conducts his music in Rotterdam, Netherlands on March 10: Circle with Four Trios, Conductor and Audience, Concerto for Six, and Concerto for Pizzicato Piano and Ten instruments in an interactive performance including dancing, chanting, and the audience itself. Inspiration arose from ancient Chinese and Greek cultures, as well as from John Cage, a mentor of Tan Dun.

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