China Shanghai International Arts Festival (CSIAF) has launched a groundbreaking new project, Rising Artists Works, a platform that commissions young, emerging artists from across China. Asia Society and Performance Space 122 have teamed up with CSIAF for the United States Premiere of three short, music-focused, multidisciplinary ensemble works.
1) Sam Wu (吴承昊 / 吳承昊) – dolphin song (白鱀豚歌) – “[A] four-movement lamentation on the recent extinction of Yangtze River “baiji” White Dolphins, the first time a species’ disappearance can be directly attributed to human activity. The first movement is a depiction of Mother Nature at work, where the dolphins live, breed, feed, and die according to natural cycles of life. The second movement tells the legend of the Yangtze princess; the creation myth of the dolphins told by generations of Yangtze River fishermen. This story is central to the idea of respecting Mother Nature, and as folklore, is an intangible cultural heritage that teaches us how to live as a small piece of a puzzle that includes all of Mother Nature’s creations. The third movement depicts our materialistic desires and the resultant conflict between the dolphins and us, while the finale is a farewell from the dolphins when their souls evaporate with the river water on a warm sunny day. The work is a prayer for action; a call for us to protect what little of the wildlife is left in our time.” The work is played by the violin, the viola, the cello, the piano, the bamboo flute, and percussion. (description from YouTube video below)
Sam Wu is a self-taught 18-year old wunderkind whose award-winning chamber music compositions have been described as “warm, sincere, and characteristic of a compassionate 21st-century metropolitan youth.” He is currently studying at Harvard University.
2) Qin Yi (秦毅) – Mirror Mind (意境) – “[A] cross-over experiment combining dramatic performance, live percussion, interactive multi-channel electronic music and new-media visual arts. Mirror Mind expects to explore the multi-layered nature of human being by rendering the reciprocal reaction of one’s inside and outside world with a “pan-acoustic” narrative approach. The Kunqu performer tries to talk with the digital illumination and his reaction in mirror initiating a dialogue between sound and image, and then break up with them, which causes a series of wobble, distortion, metamorphosis and sublimation…”
In Chinese: [意境] 运用现场戏剧表演、器乐演奏、多声道交互电子音乐与新媒体相结合的多元化形式来进行“泛听觉”式的叙事。表演者现场的即兴演绎与其“镜像”在多维空间内展开“声-形-影”的对话，同时，通过4声道环绕声音与影像的实时交互虚拟了意象的游离、冲突、幻化、升华。作者试图通过以上方式，表现人物“内”与“外”的相互映射并探讨人性的深层境界。
(description from Vimeo video below)
Qin Yi is a contemporary electronic music pioneer.
3) Zulan – Death and the Maiden – “[A] special new music piece based on the prize-winning play Death and the Maiden, using music to describe the “Six Desires of a Human Being” — a Buddhist concept which describes the six sensory pleasures derived from the eyes, ears, nose, body, and mind.”
Zulan is an internationally recognized composer.
Teaser from PS 122:
dolphin song with preconcert talk, world premiere at Shanghai Theatre Academy (movements helpfully bookmarked):
Mirror Mind Preview:
Shanghai / New York: Future Histories is a major arts project of Shanghai Municipal Government sponsored by Shanghai Cultural Development Foundation. All participating artists are within RAW (Rising Artists Works), a new series of the CSIAF and a platform that develops new ideas and emerging artists from across China.
Shanghai / New York: Future Histories is also part of COIL, Performance Space 122’s annual performance festival that demonstrates the constant vitality of live performance in New York City featuring work created locally, across the US and around the world.
Image courtesy of Asia Society. Some text modified from Asia Society’s event description.