Tan Dun, ConductorThe conceptual and multifaceted composer/conductor Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world's music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. A winner of today's most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award for classical composition, Musical America's Composer of The Year, Bach Prize of the City of Hamburg and Moscow’s Shostakovich Award, Tan Dun's music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on the radio and television. As a composer/conductor, Tan Dun has led the world's most renowned orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Philadelphia Orchestra, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filharmonica della Scala, Münchner Philharmoniker and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra, among others. As a global cultural force, Tan Dun has been using his creativity to raise awareness of environmental issues and to protect cultural diversity. In 2010, Tan Dun served as “Cultural Ambassador to the World” for World EXPO Shanghai. Most recently, his dedicated work was celebrated when UNESCO appointed Tan Dun as its global Goodwill Ambassador. The inauguration took place at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on World Water Day (March 22) and featured a free public performance of Tan Dun’s own music by the Netherlands Symphony Orchestra.
Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard by wide audiences. His first Internet Symphony, which was commissioned by Google/YouTube, has reached over 15 million people online. His Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic Concerti has frequented major concert halls and festivals. Paper Concerto was premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Hall. His multimedia work, The Map, premiered by Yo Yo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has toured more than 30 countries worldwide. Its manuscript has been included in the Carnegie Hall Composers Gallery. His Orchestral Theatre: The Gate was premiered by Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and crosses the cultural boundaries of Peking Opera, Western Opera and puppet theatre traditions. Other important recent premieres include Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo for the Berlin Philharmonic and Piano Concerto “The Fire” for Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic. Tan Dun was commissioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to write the Logo Music and Award Ceremony Music for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Current projects include a new percussion concerto for soloist Martin Grubinger that premiered last year with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and a harp concerto inspired by the secret Nushu calligraphy of Tan Dun’s home province of Hunan, China commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Concertgebouw Orchestra.
For Tan Dun the marriage of composition and inspiration has always culminated in his operatic creations, Marco Polo was commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival and has had four different productions including, most prominently, with De Nederlandse Opera directed by Pierre Audi; The First Emperor with Placido Domingo in the title role, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera of New York; Tea: A Mirror of Soul, premiered at Japan’s Suntory Hall, has since had new productions with Opera de Lyon, a co-production by Santa Fe Opera and The Opera Company of Philadelphia; and Peony Pavilion, directed by Peter Sellars which has had over 50 performances at major festivals in Vienna, Paris, London and Rome.
Tan Dun records for, Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, EMI and Opus Arte. His recordings have garnered many accolades, including a Grammy Award (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and nomination (The First Emperor; Marco Polo; Pipa Concerto), Japan's Recording Academy Awards for Best Contemporary Music CD (Water Passion after St. Matthew) and the BBC's Best Orchestral Album (Death and Fire). Tan Dun’s music is published exclusively by G. Schirmer. Inc.
Tan Dun Bio 2013 UNESCO Press Release
Manager: Ronald A. Wilford
Additional Management: Jean-Jacques Cesbron
Management Territory: Worldwide
- 6/2/2013 7:30:00 PM
- Shanghai Oriental Art Center - Opera Hall
- Shanghai, China
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- 6/16/2013 8:00:00 PM
- Xinghai Concert Hall Symphony Hall
- Guangzhou, China
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TAN DUN: MARCO POLO
S. Castle, Lundy, Kross; Workman, Zhang, Richardson, Bryant; Cappella Amsterdam, Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Tan Dun. Production: Audi. Opus Arte OA 1010 D, 156 mins., subtitled
After an absence of just more than a decade, Marco Polo, Tan Dun's first opera, returned in 2008 to the Netherlands Opera in a new staging and production. The opera, which had its premiere at the Munchener Biennale in 1996, won the Grawemeyer Award in 1998 and helped secure Tan Dun's rise to worldwide recognition.
Setting a libretto by Paul Griffiths and labeled "an opera within an opera," Marco Polo takes a highly symbolic, multi-level, introspective approach to its subject, rather than attempting a literal representation. The protagonist himself is presented in two simultaneous aspects - Marco, the physical, active side of the character, and Polo, the character's memory and intellectual self. Other characters include the element Water (who serves as something of a love interest for Polo), Kublai Kahn and three ghosts. The first ghost primarily appears as Rustichello, the scribe to whom the historical Marco Polo dictated his travels. He also represents the Chinese poet Li Po. Ghost 2 appears as Sheherazada, Gustav Mahler and the Empress of China. Ghost 3 manifests himself primarily as Dante but also as Shakespeare. Three simultaneous journeys are occurring in this opera - a physical journey from Venice to China; a journey through musical styles of medieval Europe through the Middle East, India, the Himalayas and finally China; and a spiritual journey of self-discovery and of the three aspects of time (past, present and future).
As a person who began life in the Hunan district of China, survived the Cultural Revolution and has lived since the mid-1980s in New York City, Tan Dun acknowledges that his own experience of multiculturalism has added an autobiographical reference to Marco Polo. His training in the folk traditions of Chinese music, his work in the Peking Opera and his education in advanced Western classical music have all become internalized and melded into a style uniquely his own, embracing the music of many cultures.
Pierre Audi, who shows a deep understanding both of the opera itself and of his specific team, directs this colorful new production of Marco Polo with great flair. His vision is convincing and powerful. Special praise must go to designers Jean Kalman and Elsa Ejchenrand, whose sets and lighting make highly imaginative use of the entire stage.
The cast for this production is close to ideal. All the roles require singers with a command of an enormous vocal tessitura, and all the performers here make their music sound natural and effortless. A veteran performer in the Kunqu opera tradition (which predates Peking opera style), Zhang Jun as Ghost 1 has the most athletic requirements of all the performers. He is onstage for virtually the entire opera, often dancing as well as singing. Additionally, he serves as a narrator for the physical journey being enacted. His character can be said to be the soul of the opera. His performance is quite moving and charismatic. Charles Workman gives a compelling interpretation of Polo. His is an intensely emotional role to play, and Workman proves fully convincing in it. Sarah Castle does well in the more supporting role of Marco. As Water, Nancy Allen Lundy is enthralling. Tania Kross makes an enchanting Sheherazada, a believable Gustav Mahler and a warm-hearted Empress. Stephen Richardson is appropriately commanding as Kublai Kahn and most impressive near the end of the opera, when he finally gets an extended aria. As Ghost 3, Stephen Bryant, the only carryover from the earlier cast, shows a dazzling mastery of vocal techniques.
Marco Polo is one of Tan Dun's most inspired, successful and spectacular efforts. For those new to his artistry, this DVD would make a fabulous introduction. For those who already enjoy the composer's work, this release will be a benchmark for years to come.