Commissioned by the Shanghai College of Music in honor of their 80th Anniversary

  • 1+2pic.2+ca.2(bcl)+Ebcl.2+cbn/4.3.2+btbn.1/timp.4perc/hp/str
  • 10 min

Programme Note

Shanghai Conservatory
27 November 2007

Related works:
   Shanghai Overture (for band)
   Shanghai Overture (for orchestra)

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Composer note:
In Western music, the term neo-Classicism primarily refers to a movement in music composition prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s. While the main aesthetics of the style emphasizes on textural clarity, light orchestration and formal balance, some of the compositions were directly linked to specific composers from earlier periods. The most well-known composer of the movement was Igor Stravinsky who wrote a number of works including a neo-Bachian piano concerto, a neo-Pergolesian suite (Pulcinella), and a neo-Mozartian opera (The Rake's Progress).

I always wondered what the result would be if I would adopt a similar concept and some of the techniques of the neo-Classical style and apply them to traditional Chinese classical or folk music. Although my approach is somewhat different from Stravinsky, I took the opportunity to explore the idea when I was asked to write a short composition for The Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Shanghai Overture is inspired by two well-known traditional Chinese compositions, "General's Degree" and "Purple Bamboo." Whereas both came from the same region near Shanghai, they differ vastly in character and color, one is grand and powerful while the other is light and elegant.

This work is dedicated to The Shanghai Conservatory of music, my Alma Mater, where I received a firm foundation in basic music training.

— Bright Sheng




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