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Dun, Tan

Dun, Tan (1957-)

Based in New York, Tan Dun was born in Simao, China in 1957. Having served as a rice-planter and performer of Peking opera during the Cultural Revolution, he later studied at Beijing's Central Conservatory. He holds a doctoral degree in musical arts from Columbia University of New York. Among the many international honors he has received, Tan Dun was elected by Toru Takemitsu for the Glenn Gould Prize in Music Communication, and by Hans Werner Henze for the Munich International Music Theatre Award. Tan Dun was the music director of the Tanglewood Contemporary Music Festival in 1999 and artistic director of the London Barbican Centre's international festival in 2000. Currently, he is the music director of a multimedia festival with the Orchestre de la Radio Flamande. The conceptual and multifaceted composer/conductor Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world's music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical, multimedia, Eastern and Western musical systems. A winner of today's most prestigious honors Tan Dun's music has been played throughout the world by the leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television.

Eight Colours for String Quartet (1988)

Eight Colors for String Quartet (together with In Distance and Silk Road) marks the first contact in my music between folk materials and the concentrated, lyrical language of atonality. In these works, I draw on Chinese colors and the techniques of Peking Opera. The Quartet consists of eight very short sections—almost like a set of paintings—that share and develop materials. The subjects are described by the eight interrelated titles and form a drama: a kind of ritual performance structure. Both the timbre and the string techniques are developed from Peking Opera (the vocalization of Opera actresses and Buddhist chanting can be heard). Although a shadow of atonal pitch organization remains in some sections of this piece, I began to find a way to mingle old materials with new to contribute something to the Western idea of atonality and to refresh it. I find a danger in later atonal writing that it is too easy to leave oneself out of the music. I want to find ways to remain open to my culture and open to myself. -

Tan Dun



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