Festival Gala Performance to Feature Tan Dun with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra


On 2 June 2007, acclaimed Oscar-winner Tan Dun will conduct the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in the Gala Concert of the Singapore Arts Festival. Featuring two works, The Map and The Paper Concerto, the programme reflects his exciting and unconventional approach to music.


VIPs attending the gala performance include Senior Minister Mr Goh Chok Tong; Dr Lee Boon Yang, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts; Ms Grace Fu, Minister of State for National Development; Members of Parliament, Ambassadors of foreign embassies, Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers, artists, sponsors and media.


The programme further bears the Festival’s hallmarks of quality and innovation, bridging cultures while breaking the boundaries between the classical and non-classical, East and West, avant-garde and indigenous art forms.


In The MapConcerto for Cello, Video and Orchestra Tan charts his personal journey returning to the roots of his homeland in Hunan province. The musical life of the aboriginal and indigenous tribes who inhabit the region are captured in a video documentary that is projected on large screens during the performance by the Orchestra. On film, funereal singing by old villagers and tongue singing by young maidens are accompanied by ancient ghost dance music and stone drumming by men of the Tujia, Miao and Dong cultures. These converse with live music by cello and orchestra as part of the 10-movement composition. Masterful touches are added to this seamless musical tapestry by Finnish cellist Anssi Karttunen.


The other piece for the evening also draws influence from Tan’s early memories of China. “Growing up in rural China, I received my early musical training in such an organic way, mounting paper for instruments, singing a song in the village to the accompaniment of water, using ceramics to bang out the beat. I was surrounded by ritual music and ghost opera, not Bach, not Beethoven, not Brahms. These early memories have become so important as inspirations.”


The Paper Concerto for Paper Percussion and Orchestra is the composer’s most recent work in a series exploring the combined sounds of those elements from his early memories of China — ceramics, water, paper — and the orchestra. It is an expression of what he describes as his organic music concept. Part of the organic concept is the inter-connectedness of music and the world around it. Percussionists Haruka Fujii, Rika Fujii and Yumi Fukushima manipulate instruments that include paper cymbals, wax paper bags, and a 'paper thunder tube' invented by Tan.


 Limited tickets are still available for the concert on 3 June, 7.30pm. For the performance on 3 June, Tan Dun will give a pre-concert talk about his compositional process in“Rediscovering the Map” at 6pm at Library@Esplanade.


The Map and Paper Concerto is sponsored by The Shaw Foundation with accommodation by Conrad Centennial Singapore.