Alessi, New York Philharmonic Perform Tan Dun's Trombone Concerto

Alessi, New York Philharmonic Perform Tan Dun's Trombone Concerto
© 2023 Chris Lee

For my trombone concerto, I have chosen three of these ancient instruments, cultural relics from thousands of years ago that are in danger of disappearing. They became my three muses and represent a dialogue between past and present. Between past and future. Between reality and imagination. - Tan Dun

From March 21-24, the New York Philharmonic gives the New York premiere of Three Muses in Video Game, a trombone concerto by composer Tan Dun. Jaap van Zweden conducts with the orchestra's principal trombone Joseph Alessi as soloist. This work was commissioned by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and premiered by soloist Jörgen van Rijen, Concertgebouw principal trombone.

When asked how he came up with the name of this work, Tan Dun said "The covid-19 pandemic brought the whole world to a standstill, but as artists, we will not be silenced. What intrigued me in the recent period were all those online and digital art forms that flourished, such as live streaming, virtual performances and video games." (Contemporary Classical)

In contrast to its modern title, the work’s three movements are named after 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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