Composer Qu Xiaosong, "a
master of the tense silence," will give a multimedia percussion concert tonight.
Stunning stage designs, aerial musicians, Song poetry chants and a tai chi
master highlight the evening.
The multimedia percussion concert of Chinese composer Qu Xiaosong will be set
- not in a traditional concert hall - but in an antique building within 50
Moganshan Road, a hub of Chinese contemporary art.
With a high ceiling graced with scarlet gauze decorations, the building is
embellished with a rainbow of Chinese elements, such as giant traditional
instruments, lifelike replicas of ancient frescoes, and long old wooden stools
covered by red silk cushions.
Admission is free but seats are limited and reservations are suggested.
"I love the informal, free space of the building, which is perfect for my
experimental concert, unlike formal traditional concert halls," says Qu who has
been acclaimed by European critics as "a master of tense silence."
Qu explains that his concert named "Cursive," a flowing style of calligraphy,
consists of three commissioned works that he has composed: a percussion trio
"Lam Mot" for Hong Kong City Contemporary Dance Company and Percussion Group
Cincinnati of the United States; a vocal and percussion work "Ding Feng Bo" or
"Mirage" for the American Composers Forum and the Beijing Concert Hall; and the
piano and percussion work "Cursive" for the renowned Taiwan-based Cloud Gate
Qu, 54, will conduct the concert and chant two poems of the Song Dynasty
(960-1279) poet Su Shi as part of the second piece "Ding Feng Bo," which is
named after and inspired by one of Su's poems.
The concert will be presented by the Percussion Music Ensemble of the
Shanghai Conservatory of Music and the New Zealand-based Chinese
pianist/composer Gao Ping.
"The design of the stage scenes and the aerial movement of the musicians
intertwined with the performance of tai chi master Wang Yanji will create a
never-before-experienced theatrical effect and a world of harmony and
interaction," says Qu, who has been deeply touched by Wang's tai chi playing.
Born in southwest China, Qu was sent to the countryside in Guizhou Province
during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76). He started to teach himself the
violin in 1972. One year later, he became a violist in a Peking Opera troupe in
his hometown. In 1978 he was selected by the Central Conservatory of Music in
After studying composition for five years with his teacher Du Mingxin, Qu
graduated and taught composition at the conservatory until 1988. His classmates
Tan Dun, Ye Xiaogang and Guo Wenjin have all become internationally renowned
"Most students in my class never received formal musical education or even
touched a piano before entering the conservatory. But maybe it was the early
experience in the countryside that gave me and others classmates a unique
inspiration for our music," says Qu.
"I usually reach two extremes when composing - the very raw, rough and wild
things that are close to the nature, and the extremely quiet things, about
Heaven and Earth," he says.
Local music critic Wang Shu says Qu's music is unique.
"You can immediately identify his music - it is very slow, with a lot of
silence, but it usually contains striking contrasts," says Wang. "He was
inspired by his experience in a very silent audio lab in the United States,
where he found he could only hear two kinds of sounds - the sound of his blood
flowing and his nerves tingling."
In 1989 Qu was invited as a visiting scholar by the Center for US-China Arts
Exchange of Columbia University where he received many commissions. They include
works for the Holland Festival, the Kunsten-festival des Arts Brussels, the
Festival d'Autumn A Paris and the Munich Biennale.
Reviews include such raves as "(it) opens up to an eternity reaching back in
time" and "(it) fluctuates between intense peace and violent drama, lending it
an extremely theatrical effect."
After 10 years in New York, Qu moved back to China to teach at the Shanghai
Conservatory of Music.
"Now the cultural environment in Shanghai is shallow and bustling, and the
cultural products lack variety," says Qu. "We artists should provide a variety
of arts for people with different tastes.
"But now many performance agents and artists are only following the market,
not developing the market. Qu, however, is resolutely trying to develop his own
audience who wants his very unique music played in a very special venue.
Date: November 9, 11, 7:30pm
Address: 2/F, Bldg 17, 50 Moganshan Rd
Tel: 021-6298-5722 (seats are limited, please call for