On Sunday, March 20th, the Seattle Symphony will perform the U.S. premiere of a new trombone concerto by Tan Dun titled Three Muses in Video Game. Kahchun Wong conducts alongside soloist Ko-ichiro Yamamoto. This follows an acclaimed world premiere in Amsterdam on November 5th, 2021 by The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and their principal trombonist Jörgen van Rijen, under the baton of South Korean conductor Shi-Yeon Sung. Regional premieres by the Hong Kong Philharmonic and the Philharmonie Luxembourg, who joined The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony in commissioning the piece, will take place this fall.
In contrast to its modern title, the work’s three movements are named for ancient Chinese instruments: the bili, the xiqin, and the sheng. The sound of each distinctive “muse” inspires both the orchestral passages and the trombone solo. Rick van Veldhuizen of De Volkskrant writes, “Genuine humor is often hard to find in contemporary classical music, but Tan Dun's succeeded. [He] pays tribute to game music, while acknowledging his indebtedness to the Chinese music tradition… When it’s over, you just want more.”
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