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Chinese Musician Fascinates World with Experimental-classical Crossover


Tan Dun

He tossed his head with half-closed eyes, waved the baton high in the air, then paused in the aftersounds of a symphony for five seconds, like a statue.

A storm of applause came, with people standing up clapping and shouting "bravo." He turned around to the audience, bowing with smile, as if he was just coming out from a dream back to reality.

For Tan Dun, one of the most iconic contemporary Chinese composers, music is always the best tool to exploit the common spirits of human beings. He enjoys telling stories with Chinese notes mingling with experimental and classical genres.

This time, he fascinated a Russian audience with mixture of ancient Chinese philosophy, skillful performance and avant-garde expression.

The Chinese musician, who recently received a top musical award named after Russian musician Dmitri Shostakovich in Moscow, told Xinhua he was "honored and so touched" to get the prize in Russia, "the hometown of music."

Recalling his early music life, Tan said he has been familiar with the works of Shostakovich since a young age and holds the Russian musician in high regard.

Calling music "an universal language," Tan said it was also a bridge connecting Chinese and Russian people.

"There is no territory in the world of music. On this common platform, we could connect past with future, share ideas and thoughts, dig into inner self and pursue our dreams," Tan said.

The laureate gave a performance in collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra of New Russia that received exuberant feedback.

In his symphony work Death and Fire, Tan seemed to revive his childhood memories in the countryside of the central Chinese province of Hunan, during which he saw Shamans conducting rituals and ceremonies with background music made by organic objects like rocks and water.

Violins, violas were used to imitate bird twittering and Chinese string instruments. Trumpets and euphoniums simulate sounds of thunder crashing and Chinese brass instruments.

For a few seconds, musicians stopped playing and started whispering. Finally they all stood up, shouting and waving their strings and bugles.

The conductor highly praised his Russian partners, saying their understanding of Chinese culture and philosophy was far beyond his imagination.

Years ago, the violin-turned-Erhu composing style brought Tan harsh criticism, with a renowned U.S. newspaper saying he mingled pure wines with beers. Now, the same newspaper calls him "one of the 10 most significant musicians in the world."

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