By Nancy T. Lu
Tan Dun, Academy Award winner for his original soundtrack for filmmaker Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” returns to Taipei upon the invitation of the National Symphony Orchestra to live up to his reputation for creating “a new sound world” and for bringing together East and West in his experimental musical expression.
Tan Dun is to conduct a new version complete with multimedia presentation of his “Crouching Tiger” music at the National Concert Hall in Taipei on March 26. The “Crouching Tiger Concerto” is written for a change for two different orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra and the Taiwan National Chinese Orchestra, as well as for two soloists, cellist Lien Yi-shien and erhu player Wang Ming-hua. The original composition was for just one orchestra.
The two soloists’ music-making will articulate the feelings not openly acknowledged between the characters portrayed by Michelle Yeoh and Chou Yun-fat in the smash hit Mandarin movie. After the world premiere in Taipei, it will air next at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, according to the composer who travels as goodwill ambassador for the big international fair in Shanghai.
Tan Dun is likewise calling attention to his personal fascination with the visual aspect of music, this time even seeking to create sounds on three instruments newly kiln-fired using clay of three different colors – black kind originating from Xian in China, whitish one sourced from Taiwan and reddish one coming from Hong Kong.
Notes from “Earth Concerto – A Dialogue with Gustav Mahler” will, therefore, require playing on a wind instrument of extraordinary shape (resembling French horn as seen in picture above), a “xun” or Chinese vessel flute of clay and a “fou” or clay percussion instrument gourd or pot.
Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” inspired the composition and Tan Dun wrote it to commemorate the composer’s 150th birth anniversary. The music is both experimental and eclectic in its mix of elements from East and West.
“Internet Symphony No. 1, Eroica” will also be in the concert program. This piece was composed originally for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Aspiring musicians picked from around the world gathered at the Carnegie Hall in New York to play as the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Tan Dun’s commissioned composition. The piece was only four minutes and three seconds in length. .