The world-renowned artist and UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador 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. A winner of today's most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award, Bach Prize, Shostakovich Award, and, most recently, Italy's Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, Tan Dun's music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television.
This season opens with multiple premieres across the globe, from a portrait concert in Oslo at the Ultima Festival to the continuation of the premiere concerts of the Buddha Passion oratorio in Australia, Asia, and North America.
Ultima Festival Presents Portrait Concert Featuring Two World Premieres
On September 19 2018, the Ultima Festival in Oslo presented The Oslo Philharmonic in a portrait concert of Tan Dun’s orchestral works, featuring violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing as soloist and conducted by the composer. The concert included the world premiere of two new works for solo violin and orchestra, Violin Concerto: Fire Ritual – a musical ritual for victims of war, and Rhapsody and Fantasia, a new version of his 1994 work. Fire Ritual was inspired by his visits to the Dunhuang prehistoric cave paintings during his period of researching his new oratorio, Buddha Passion.
Eldbjørg Hemsing, violin
Oslo-Filharmonien; Tan Dun, conductor
Premiere – Violin Concerto: Fire Ritual – a musical ritual for victims of war (2018)
Premiere – Violin Concerto: Rhapsody and Fantasia (1994, new version 2018)
Passacaglia: Secret of Wind and Birds for cellphones and orchestra (2015)
'Buddha Passion' — Premieres in Australia, Asia, North America
On May 23 2018, Tan Dun conducted the world premiere of his landmark new oratorio work, Buddha Passion, at the Dresdner Musikfestspiele at Kulturpalast Dresden, Germany, to great acclaim.
Commissioned jointly by the Dresdner Musikfestspiele, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the monumental piece — sung in Chinese and Sanskrit — is scored for seven soloists, choir, and orchestra. Premiered in Dresden by the Münchner Philharmoniker, featuring the Internationale Chorakademie Lübeck, this monumental work continues to share its message of peace and cultural exchange through premiere performances this season in Australia, Asia, and North America, with its premiere solo cast.
Sen Guo | Soprano
Kang Wang | Tenor
Shenyang | Baritone
Huiling Zhu | Mezzo-soprano
Tan Weiwei | Female Indigenous Singer
Batubagen | Male Indigenous Singer
Wenqing Shi | Fantan Pipa Soloist and Dancer
Australian premiere – October 6 2018, Melbourne Festival, Tan Dun, conductor
Asian premiere – November 2-3 2018, Hong Kong New Vision Festival, Tan Dun, conductor
North American premiere – February 9-8 2019, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gustavo Dudamel, conductor
About 'Buddha Passion':
Tan Dun's Buddha Passion weaves stories that have lived in the hearts and minds of the Eastern World for thousands of years. Buddha Passion will be the very first 'passion' story written about the lessons of Buddha with music inspired by the ancient city of Dunhuang and the awe-inspiring Mogao Caves, which have been under protection for the past thirty years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: 'Located in an oasis of the Taklamakan Desert in western China, the ancient city of Dunhuang became an important outpost of the Silk Road nearly two thousand years ago. For centuries, it flourished as a center for Buddhist worship and learning. Generations of monks and pilgrims carved shrines out of the rock cliffs at Mogao, gradually building one of the greatest collections of Buddhist painting, sculpture, and architecture in the world'. (Dunhuang Foundation).
Inspired by the powerful spiritual and cultural exchange, as well as the groundbreaking musical history discovered in the Dunhuang murals from the 4th-14th centuries, Tan Dun spent two years locating, visiting, researching, and documenting the lost musical manuscripts from the Dunhuang Library Cave. His fascination and countless hours of research to translate and unearth "the ancient sounds of Dunhuang" culminate in this ambitious new work, weaving chants, stories, and sounds of Dunhuang into an opera of six individual short stories.
Capturing the ancient narratives of the Buddha's teachings and the timeless, universal concepts of love, forgiveness, sacrifice, and salvation, Tan Dun has summarized the stories portrayed on the walls of the Mogao Caves in an extraordinary and unique musical work.
'On Wednesday evening at the music festival in Dresden, the World Premiere of Buddha Passion by the Chinese composer Tan Dun encountered broad approval. After the performance of the work lasting about two hours, the audience of the Kulturpalast was thrilled. Tan Dun was celebrated at the podium as conductor with the Munich Philharmonic, the International Choir Academy Lübeck and a soloist ensemble with artists from Asia'.
— Musik Heute, May 24 2018
'The most astonishing experience about this encompassing linguistic and musical landscape is the tone that the composer and conductor, Tan Dun, creates: between a great film-like orchestral storm and lyrical pianissimi, one can find the highest variety of singing styles to illustrate his Buddha tale.… After two hours, the audience jumped out of their seats applauding'.
— Helmut Mauró, Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 24 2018