Chinese music enlivens the holiday

By Michelle Qiao (Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-29 11:01
Chinese music enlivens the holiday
Paris-based Chinese composer Chen Qigang. [Photo by]
Spring is a season to appreciate new leaves and hear new music. Two Chinese orchestras will bring a fresh Chinese breeze by playing two contemporary compositions with Chinese elements during the May Day holiday.

The Shanghai Symphony Orchestra will play Paris-based Chinese composer Chen Qigang's award-winning piece "Iris" at the He Luting Concert Hall next Thursday.

Six Chinese female folk musicians will play the suite for grand orchestra, three female voices and three traditional Chinese instruments.

"Iris" is a kind of blue flower. The Chinese name of the piece, "The Butterfly Loves the Flower," is adapted from a form of ancient Chinese poem, which was famous for describing the nuances in relationships between man and woman.

"I wrote the piece when I was 50 years old and thought I understood women and life," says the 56-year-old Shanghai-born composer who moved to France 20 years ago.

The composition describes nine characters of women - innocent, shy, sensitive, dissolute, gentle, jealous, sentimental, hysterical and passionate. The piece has received positive reviews from both professional and ordinary audiences, according to Chen.

The composer, the last student of contemporary maestro Olivier Messiaen, says he hasn't surpassed "Iris" in his compositions.

"I couldn't bear to hear some of my early works being played - they were so immature in terms of mixing Eastern and Western cultures," says Chen. "I'm thinking of destroying some early works totally. I believe it's enough for a composer to leave behind only one or two high-quality compositions in the world during his lifetime."

Chen will explain his favorite "Iris" in a talk with the audience before the performance.

"I don't want this piece played at the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Concert Hall or Pudong's Oriental Arts Center," says Chen. "The smaller but more academic He Luting Concert Hall with good acoustics is the perfect place for this piece."

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