Tan Dun's music week in Stockholm from November 8-17 has been a fantastic success, says the host Stefan Forsberg, who is also director of the Stockholm Concert Hall.
Forsberg said that during the annual Stockholm International Composers' Festival, they usually choose one of the famous composers and play the composer's music for the whole week. And this year, they want to choose a person from Asia or China. So the focal person this year is the Chinese composer Tan Dun, the Oscar best film music winner for "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon" directed by Ang Lee.
Tan Dun explains his music.
"It is one of the biggest successes we have had. It's a fantastic success. Every day the tickets were sold out and the audience, both old and young, came to Tan Dun's concert and often stood there for a long time after the performance to show their great enthusiasm about Tan's music. I can say this week in Stockholm we have a Tan Dun's fever or craze," Said Forsberg.
To prepare for the concert, Forsberg visited China several times and went to New York too during a period of more than 2 years. In order to play Tan Dun's music 'Out of Peking Opera', Forsberg bought special materials in Beijing and asked people to make special Peking Opera's costumes.
During the week, a total of 15 different pieces of Tan Dun's music was performed by the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Stockholm New Chamber Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, String Quartet and some other freelance musicians.
The music includes Water Concerto and Paper Concerto which focused on water and paper as a kind of instrument. It is a percussion of water and paper which is very special and gave the audience exotic enjoyment.
Forsberg said this was the first time that Tan Dun's music was performed for the whole week in Sweden and it was the first time that Tan Dun has ever been in Sweden for two weeks.
Tan Dun was the host for most of the performances and he gave some explanations about his music. For example in the Map, all kinds of instrument were used including stones, wood, paper, cello and many kinds of drums. It depicts the life of the Chinese people and how they made life melody with their simple tools.
In his "Secret Land for Twelve Cello", Tan Dun describes a land of music.
"This is a version which only has 12 cellos without other instruments. The piece is based on all the music secrecy. A secret land of Marco Polo, both psychological and symbolic. It has to do with a land, but the land here is a land for music, a land for musicians to approach. But how to approach is a secret, different musicians have different ways. It's like a cook who cooks different dishes. This piece is more about people in Inner Mongolia or along the Silk Road. It's typical Chinese music because it uses the 'bang's beat. It's mainly a silk road culture for string techniques to show the thousands years of history along the silk road including India, China and ….even Iran. "
Tan Dun said in his music, he is also trying to show the changes in China through the 1980s, to 90s and 21st century during which people are seeking the modern sense which let people more open in their minds. He compared his composition with cooking food. "You can't always eat spaghetti, you have to eat some rice or noodles from time to time." It means that his music is across the border, mixing the east and the western cultures and lives.
In his 'Silk Road', Tan Dun explained that his understanding of the Silk Road is that "it is an invisible road which is like a silk, connected but actually cannot be seen".
In Tan Dun's opera tea: A Mirror of Soul, Chinese Guqin player Yuan Li and Yuan Sha also came to Stockholm to play the traditional Chinese instrument Guqin. After the performance, they also donated the two Guqin instruments to the Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra as gifts. And the opera here is a special kind of music composed by Tan Dun, which is a combination between concert and opera.
Forsberg said Tan Dun's quality use of orchestras and all kinds of technology and material opened a new window for the audience who are more and more curious about music technologies nowadays.
50-year-old Tan Dun was born in Hunan Province, central China and now lives in New York. He went to America in 1986 and became famous for composing music for Ang Lees film The Banquet and other famous films.
Tan Dun will be in charge of the music in 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It's reported that he will also use a lot of water sound during the process. By Xuefei Chen, People's Daily Online correspondent in Stockholm.