World-famous composer leads New Year's Eve concert in Shanghai

Ma Yue
Tan Dun will conduct Shanghai Chinese Orchestra in the concert, which will premiere his latest traditional Chinese music composition.
Ma Yue

Famed composer and conductor Tan Dun is leading the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra for the Shanghai Grand Theater's New Year's Eve concert on Friday.

Their performance will include the premiere of a traditional Chinese music version of Tan's composition "Dunhuang: Buddha Passion" of which he also created a version for symphony orchestra.

The new version was composed by commission of Shanghai Chinese Orchestra and involved him making nearly 10 visits to Dunhuang, northwest China's Gansu Province, over two years to seek inspiration.

World-famous composer leads New Year's Eve concert in Shanghai
Ti Gong

Composer and conductor Tan Dun

"The art and stories in the Dunhuang murals are futuristic and transcendent," said Tan. "Animals and people communicate with kindness and humanity, which is fascinating to me, as I have been working on 'sci-fi sound' and 'metaverse mantra' recently."

He added: "This version for Chinese music is created based on ancient Chinese timbre and rhythm, reflecting my thinking about the inheritance and contemporary education of traditional Chinese music."

The concert, depicting mural stories and folklore, consists of six chapters – Under the Bodhi Tree, Deer of Nine Colors, Thousand Arms & Thousand Eyes, Zen Garden, Heart Sutra and Nirvana.

The performance will feature baritone Shen Yang, tenor Han Peng, Inner Mongolian singer Hasibagen and Tibetan soprano Zerenyangjin, as well as the Lanzhou Concert Hall Choir.

Pipa player Li Shengnan will perform playing the instrument behind her back, a typical dancing posture depicted on Dunhuang murals.

World-famous composer leads New Year's Eve concert in Shanghai
Ti Gong

Pipa player Li Shengnan will perform playing the instrument behind her back.

Tan has studied ancient Dunhuang instruments and restored three of them – Dunhuang xiqin, konghou and Dunhuang bili – which will be presented to audiences during the concert.

"We have found original manuscripts of ancient music scores, but no contemporary instruments could demonstrate the music," said Tan. "That's why I 'recreated' these instruments with the help of instrument manufacturers in Shenzhen, and hope the music can take audiences back to those gorgeous ancient times."

World-famous composer leads New Year's Eve concert in Shanghai
Ti Gong

Ancient instruments – Dunhuang xiqin (left), konghou (right above) and Dunhuang bili – will be displayed during the concert.

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