The freedom Sheng takes in rhythmic and metric treatments is foreign to the Chinese. While most of Tibetan dance music has a regular 2/4 meter, in the last movement “Tibetan Dance” he employs a constantly changing meter, similar to Stravinsky….. On the surface, the changing meter appears to upset the regularity and predictability of the original folk music. However, the folk tune remains intact and recognizable as he utilizes Western compositional techniques in these transcriptions.” – Dr. Yan Ming Alvin Wong
Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng‘s Seven Tunes Heard in China is a shining example of what scholar Dr. Alvin Wong calls “intentional hybridity,” a process of intentional fusion of elements from the two distinct musical traditions of Chinese and Western classical music. As Dr. Wong explains, “In order to avoid being sent to the farmlands and be “re-educated” during the Cultural Revolution, Bright Sheng auditioned to play piano and percussion in a provincial song-and-dance troupe (The Qinghai Folk Song and Dance Theater) in Xining, capital of the Qinghai province next to Tibet. He was greatly inspired by the folk music from that region,and was particularly drawn to the folksong genre huaer (literally “flower,” a type of mountain songs sung between young lovers as part of courtship) and Tibetan dance music.”
The result, produced decades later was Seven Tunes Heard In China for solo cello, composed in 1995 and premiered by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Heifetz 2017 student Ezra Escobar introduced the final movement, “Tibetan Dance,” to an appreciative audience in Staunton, both playing – and drumming on – his cello!
Ezta performs the piece at a Stars of Tomorrow in concert at Mary Baldwin University’s Francis Auditorium in Staunton, VA, home to the Heifetz Institute. Take a look and listen, and if you want to see more, check out our entire page of previous Videos of the Week . You can also subscribe to get them delivered to your inbox every week!