Tan Dun | Concerto for Orchestra
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“An orchestra in a composer’s hands, no longer remains a standard orchestra – it becomes the orchestra of that specific composer. The same instrumentation in the hands of Bartók or Stravinsky or Debussy becomes a completely different orchestra. I have always questioned myself: what is my orchestra? What is the orchestra of the future? This piece, Concerto for Orchestra, is my answer. This piece evolved from a concerto of mine commissioned by the Berlin Philharmonic and was written with my opera Marco Polo in mind.  Marco Polo took three different journeys: a geographical, musical and spiritual journey. In the first movement Light of Timespace, Marco Polo is making his spiritual journey through time and space. The brass and strings slide back and forth, much like the fading in and out of light or the dripping of ink on calligraphy paper. The sound stops, but the meaning of the notes still continues. The second movement, Scent of Bazaar, opens to the scent of Eastern markets with the trumpets and brass representing the spicy flavours and powerful perfumes. With the third movement, The Raga of Desert, we hear Indian raga where every note is alive and has an infinite number of expressions. Here, I specifically focused on the blowing and bowing instruments and how they could sound like plucking instruments such as the sitar. For the final movement, Marco Polo makes his arrival in the Forbidden City and I was trying to imagine what kind of light, colour and sound he saw and heard there. The Forbidden City also has a lot of meaning for me: it is not “forbidden”, not an obstruction, but shows origin, change and mystery. Change is circular and we must always return.”



30 Minutes
Commissioned By

For the 15 year anniversary
of the Beijing Music
World Premiere

October 21, 2012
Beijing, China
China Philharmonic Orchestra
Tan Dun, conductor
More Info
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