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Classical News, Jazz, Opera, World Music, Theater, Ballet ...

Chinese Composer explores women in music
Concerto suite "Iris Devoillee," which was composed by French-based Chinese musician Chen Qigang, will be performed by the National Orchestra de France under the baton of world-known Chinese conductor Tang Muhai in Paris on February 6.

Commissioned by the US Koussevitzky Music Foundation and National Orchestra de France, Chen composed the nine-part suite with the theme of "women."

"There's no denying that women are important to men. Actually, the idea has been in my mind for a long time," Chen said.

Yet, the composer admitted it was a difficult task to depict women. "Women are so emotional, sophisticated, complicated and mercurial that I am not sure I can express it well," he said. "So it is just a try.

"But generally speaking, the work is exquisite. The inward grace overflows with emotion. It sounds more like chamber music."

Chen composed each of the nine parts to feature one characteristic of women, which is expressed by either a traditional Chinese instrument or a woman vocalist accompanied by the symphony orchestra.

After composing the music for the ballet "Raise the Red Lantern," Chen said he has remained fascinated by the tune of Peking Opera and the music played on traditional Chinese instruments such as the two-stringed vertical fiddle and a seven-stringed zither.

Wu Bixia and Ke Luwa, two sopranos singing in traditional Chinese style, and Ma Shuai, an actress from the China Peking Opera Theatre, will perform the vocal parts.

Some Western musical elements and Western sopranos are also involved in the concerto suite.

Tang Muhai will conduct the suite since Chen prefers "a conductor who knows Chinese culture well."

Chen was born in Shanghai in 1955. He studied piano and clarinet as a child and was later admitted to the Central Conservatory of Music in China to study composition.

In 1984, he was ranked first in the national selection contest for studying abroad. From 1984 to 1988, Chen learned composition in Paris.

His music synthesizes the cultures of the East and West and shows a profound knowledge of instruments and genuine lyricism.

His works are played by well-known orchestras all over the world, delighting audiences with his vivid expression and rich tonal range.

Chen has received many awards and participated in the Taiwan International Composition Contest, the Ninth International Composition Contest of Besancon and the 2000 International Messiaen Music Competition.

China Daily

Fri Jan 18 2002 (9:26:31 PM)


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