Take the sheng — a Chinese mouth-blown free reed consisting of vertical pipes — an instrument with the tone color and harmonic possibilities of a pipe organ and the immediacy of a saxophone. Then put it in the hands of a world-savvy player who knows no musical bounds. Wu Tong, charter member of the Silk Road Ensemble and founding front man for the Beijing-based rock band Lunhui, offers a broad sampling of his music sensibilities, from traditional tunes to new compositions and free improvisation. With Simon C.F. Yu, guitar; Shane Shanahan, percussion; Neena Deb-Sen, cello; and featuring Clifford Ross‘s Harmonium Mountain II video, with an original score by Wu Tong.
This program is part of the Asia Society Performing Arts program and the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relation’s ongoing “US-China Forum on the Arts and Culture.”
This program features the world premiere of Distant Mountain, commissioned by Sotheby’s and inspired by the paintings of Chinese modern master Wu Guanzhong (1919–2010), in an arrangement for sheng, cello and vibraphone by the composer Eli Marshall. The piece reunites Wu and Marshall, who collaboratively composed the score for Wong Kar Wai’s film Ashes of Time Redux (2008).
The evening will also include the U.S. premiere of Harmonium Mountain II, a collaboration between Clifford Ross and Wu, which had its world premiere at China’s Central Conservatory in Beijing in November 2012. Harmonium Mountain II, a computer-generated video conceived and directed by Ross, presents an imaginary landscape of colorful, animated elements derived entirely from his high resolution photograph of Colorado’s Mount Sopris, a continuation of Ross’ exploration of objective reality and subjective experience.
This program is supported in part by The Kai-Yin Lo Distinguished Program Series which aims to create a platform to discuss the role of Asian arts and culture in contemporary society.
This performance will be preceded at 7:00 pm by a pre-performance lecture.
“Wu wields [the sheng] on stage like a harmonica on steroids.” — Financial Times
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