Symphony of Colors: Terracotta – commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of Age of Empires: Chinese Art of the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C. – A.D. 220) – is a multimedia symphony that spotlights Tan Dun’s original film footage of the Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors. The work draws on music from The First Emperor.
Age of Empires showcases more than 160 ancient Chinese works of art, most of which have never before been seen in the West. Among the collection are life-size warriors from the terracotta army that was buried with China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. The warriors are meant to protect the emperor in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang’s military conquests unified China, and the emperor ordered construction of the Great Wall.
The multimedia symphony boasts stunning visuals, captured by Tan Dun when he traveled to Xi’an, the oldest of China’s Four Great Ancient Capitals. He filmed Qin Shi Huang’s terracotta warriors in the mausoleum where, for more than 2,000 years, they have made their home. Symphony of Colors: Terracotta sees the ancient and modern collide through the use of multimedia.
With Symphony of Colors: Terracotta, we’re creating a sound bridge between the past and the future. The Juilliard students are the future, and the piece connects them with the 2,000-year-old Qin Dynasty terracotta warriors.
Two thousand years ago, Chinese music used ceramic flutes and silk-stringed instruments. We used the black, white, and red colors of the earth to make everything: instruments, fabric, decoration, even the music notation on rocks and walls. It’s this earth music that you’ll discover in Symphony of Colors: Terracotta.