West meets East at New Fusion Music Concert in New York

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-19 16:55:36|Editor: Yurou
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NEW YORK, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- A concert aimed at promoting and celebrating a fusion of Western and Eastern music was held on Monday night at New York's famous Carnegie Hall, premiering five pieces by contemporary American and Chinese composers to charm both American and Asian audience.

The concert, called New York New Fusion Music Concert, was staged by members of Unheard-Of//Ensemble, F-Plus Music, and All of the Above Ensemble.

It brought together many different elements.

Edward Smaldone, professor of music at the Aaron Copland School of Music, the City University of New York, created a new piece specifically for the concert. It was also the first piece of his works inspired by Chinese culture, including the use of Zhongruan, a Chinese plucked string instrument, in addition to Western music instruments.

"Every instrument has its own tradition ... The development of these instruments belongs to each and different cultures. What we have done is to combine these techniques together," said Smaldone.

His new piece was inspired by the Chinese classic novel "Tale of Water Margin," which was set against a fading Song Dynasty (960-1279) plagued with corruption and bogged down in political and social turmoils.

"The spirit I have sought is one that includes vernacular musical gestures, and speaks in a vivid language," said Smaldone.

Talking about the pieces played at the concert that fuse Western and Eastern music, he said audience with different background may appreciate them in entirely different ways.

For an American, he may feel a Chinese instrument comes in, takes over and changes the whole sound; while for a Chinese, the Western instruments are burying that beautiful sound from a Chinese instrument, he said.

"(But) it opens up your ears to new possibilities," said Smaldone.

Wang Xian, artistic director of the concert, said she hoped the concert could contribute to Chinese culture promotion in the mainstream American society.

Three Chinese instruments featured at the concert, namely Pipa (a four-stringed instrument), Zhongruan, and Sheng (a mouth-blown free reed instrument). U.S. composers were invited to the concert to create music using Chinese instruments, and by this, Wang hoped U.S. composers would know better about the instruments.

"I want Chinese instruments to be universal, just like the piano," Wang told Xinhua.

Wang said that for many years, many people have believed that Chinese music instruments are confined to traditional Chinese music only. She wants to change their minds with this concert and many projects to come, showing Chinese instruments can do much more than they think.