Love and sacrifice: Tan Dun brings his Martial Arts Trilogy to London

Love and sacrifice: Tan Dun brings his Martial Arts Trilogy to London
© Tomasz Wiech
On November 30 Tan Dun will conduct the London Symphony Orchestra in the first UK performance of his Martial Arts Trilogy at the Barbican, London. This concert-length work which combines music and video brings together the scores for three masterpieces of Chinese cinema – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (director Ang Lee), Hero (director Zhang Yimou) and The Banquet (director Feng Xiaogang). It is comprised of four concerti for western and Chinese instruments, which are presented in the manner of an opera or three-act ballet.

“[The Martial Arts Trilogy] centres on the love and sacrifice of three women for three very different reasons. Each of the films’ leading female characters sacrifices her life for love. In Crouching Tiger the character Jade sacrifices her life for her spiritual love of the wuxia dream. In Hero, the character Snow sacrifices her life for the patriotic love of her country. Lastly in The Banquet, like in Hamlet, Empress Wan sacrifices her life and love for desire and revenge.” Tan Dun

As both composer and conductor, Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world's music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. His works for the concert hall, stage and screen have earned him the most important musical honours, including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award for classical composition, Musical America's ‘Composer of The Year’ and, most recently, the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. His latest major work is an oratorio, The Buddha Passion. This evening-length work has been co-commissioned by the Melbourne Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic and Dresdner Musikfestspiele and will receive its premiere in Dresden in May 2018 conducted by the composer.

Concert information | Explore the Martial Arts Trilogy

Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement

Tan Dun was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement in a ceremony at the 2017 Venice Biennale, becoming the youngest recipient of this honour for music. In presenting him with the award, the jury recognised Tan Dun’s work in linking tradition with innovation and history with current events in a time of rapid globalisation. It also acknowledged his defence of nature, a common theme in his "organic music" which spotlights water, stones, paper, and ceramics alongside traditional musical instruments. A statement by Ivan Fedele, Director of the Music Department at Venice Biennale, described Tan Dun as “a charismatic multi-talented figure in the music of our time”.

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Music Connects Worlds: Shanghai, London, Bonn

A major new work by Tan Dun will be the centrepiece of a recently-announced creative partnership between the Royal Philharmonic Society, China Shanghai International Arts Festival and the Beethoven Anniversary Association in Bonn. The three organisations have joined together to commission a ‘Choral Concerto’ to partner Beethoven’s ninth symphony, which was itself commissioned by the RPS in 1824. The new piece will link Chinese, British and German performers and celebrate how music communicates our common humanity. The work will form part of the Beethoven 2020 celebrations in London and Bonn, after receiving its premiere in Shanghai at the 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival in 2018. An agreement between the three partners was signed in Shanghai in October 2017.

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