Saturday, September 10, 2011

9/11: Chen Yi

It's the darkest period of time in American contemporary history that I have experienced. I have composed several works in the following year, as a result from this impact. Here are the program notes and selected media coverage of the two pieces for your information.

Chen Yi Know You How Many Petals Falling? For mixed choir (2001)
Dedicated to the memory of New York firefighters who sacrificed themselves to protect thousands of fellow citizens at the 9.11 tragedy. The work was premiered by Elmer Iseler Singers at the 6th World Symposium on Choral Music, who commissioned the work for the event, on August 11, 2002 in Minneapolis, MN.
The text is taken from an ancient Chinese poem Know You How Many Petals Falling? by Meng Hao-ran (689-740, Tang Dynasty), sung in English. The English translation of the poem is heard in the choral work: "Spring dreams unconscious of dawning, Not woke up till I hear birds singing; O night long wind and showers -- Know you how many petals falling?"

CHEN Yi TU for full orchestra/wind ensemble (2002)
Commissioned by The Women’s Philharmonic and the American Composers Orchestra with a grant provided by NEA in 2000, the orchestral piece TU was composed between July and August of 2002, and dedicated to the memory of New York firefighters who sacrificed themselves protecting thousands of fellow citizens at the 9.11 tragedy in 2001, to express the composer’s compassion for the victims and their families, to denounce terrorist acts, and to call for peace in the future. The first recording was produced by BIS and performed by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Mr. Lan Shui in October, 2002. The world premiere took place on March 7. 2004, at The Women’s Philharmonic’s final concert, “The American Women Masters Gala Concert”, conducted by Anne Manson, at Herbst Theater, San Francisco, CA, as part of a state-wide festival promoting women composers and conductors throughout the month. The wind ensemble version was premiered subsequently on April 8, 2004, by UMKC Wind Symphony conducted by Dr. Sarah McKoin.
The Chinese character Tu could be related to burning, poison and fiery...

Chen Yi
As a Distinguished Professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, a prolific composer and recipient of the prestigious Charles Ives Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2001-04), Chen Yi blends Chinese and Western traditions, transcending cultural and musical boundaries. Through doing so, she serves as an ambassador to the arts, creating music that reaches a wide range of audiences, inspiring people with different cultural backgrounds throughout the world. She holds both a BA and MA in music composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and received her DMA from Columbia University in the City of New York, studying composition with Wu Zuqiang, Chou Wen-chung and Mario Davidovsky. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005.
Chen Yi's music has been commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin, Yo-Yo Ma, Evelyn Glennie, the Cleveland Orchestra, the BBC, the Seattle, Pacific, and Singapore Symphonies, the Brooklyn, New York, and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Raschèr Saxophone Quartet and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Orchestra of St. Luke's, and recorded on many labels, including BIS, New Albion, CRI, Teldec, Telarc, Albany, New World, Naxos, Quartz, Delos, Angel, Nimbus, and KIC.
Dr. Chen has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation (1996) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1994), as well as the Lieberson Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1996). Other honors include first prize in the Chinese National Composition Competition (1985), the Lili Boulanger Award from the National Women Composers Resource Center (1993), New York University’s Sorel Medal (1996), the CalArts/Alpert Award (1997), a Grammy Award (1999), the University of Texas Eddie Medora King Composition Prize (1999), the Adventurous Programming and Concert Music awards from ASCAP (1999 and 2001, respectively), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s Elise Stoeger Award (2002), the Edgar Snow Memorial Fund’s Friendship Ambassador Award (2002), the Kauffman Award in Artistry/Scholarship from the UMKC Conservatory (2006), and honorary doctorates from Lawrence University in WI (2002), Baldwin-Wallace College in OH (2008), the University of Portland in OR (2009), and The New School University in NYC (2010).

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