On October 6, 2018, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chorus performed the Australian premiere of Tan Dun’s new large-scale choral work Buddha Passion. Critics and audiences alike resoundingly praised the piece as a “vivid and approachable epic… [bringing] many in the audience to their feet” for a prolonged standing ovation (Limelight). The orchestra, chorus, and soloists virtuosically realized the challenging combination of eastern and western stylistic elements, and “responded enthusiastically to Tan [Dun’s] clear direction” (Limelight).
“Both the quality of the performance and the devout artistic commitment that have been invested in the creation of Buddha Passion resulted in a spiritual experience to remember, making it an ideal centre-piece of any Arts Festival” (Classic Melbourne). The Melbourne performance of Buddha Passion succeeded in “flawlessly combining the classic with the contemporary in a rousing and memorable performance. As good as opera can get!” (ArtsHub).
The MSO appointed Tan Dun as Artistic Ambassador, the first award of its kind, the night of the performance. In a press release by the MSO:
“This rare appointment acknowledges the close relationship between Maestro Tan and the MSO, and celebrates his extraordinary contribution classical music. As a composer and conductor, Tan Dun is one of the greatest living artists whose work seamlessly weaves together Eastern and Western classical traditions.”
Tan Dun will return to the MSO, as part of his new ambassadorship, on February 13, 2019 with the Mongolian rock band Hanggai.
The Melbourne realization of Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion is hailed as “a remarkable work of creativity, insight and sheer musical brilliance” (ArtsHub). Tan Dun will continue his global tour next month to lead performances in Hong Kong in November and Los Angeles in February for the Asia and U.S. Premieres, respectively.
Tan Dun’s concert was featured during the opening weekend of the 2018 Melbourne International Arts Festival.
Photos: Daniel Aulsebrook