Chinese composer Tan Dun returns to New York for Ying Quartet reunion

World Today

Best known for winning Grammy and Oscar for composing the music behind 2001’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Tan Dun has returned to New York for a special concert. His first trip to New York was more than 20 years ago to attend Columbia University. The Chinese classical composer has returned to perform alongside three other composers who have shaped his career. CCTV America’s Maggie Yin reported this story from New York.

“From China to America” was a collection and tribute to Chinese musical arts through Chinese drums, gongs, wind chimes and free-for-all percussion.

Chinese composer Tan Dun returns to New York for Ying Quartet reunion

Best known for winning Grammy and Oscar for composing the music behind 2001's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Tan Dun has returned to New York for a special concert. His first trip to New York was more than 20 years ago to attend Colombia. The Chinese classical composer has returned to perform alongside three other composers who have shaped his career. CCTV America's Maggie Yin reported this story from New York.

Maya Beiser, named the ‘cello goddess’ by The New Yorker Magazine, performed with the Ying Quartet. Their selections were composed by Academy and Grammy award winning Tan Dun, his accomplished contemporaries Zhou Long and Chen Yi, and the man who mentored them all: 91-year-old former professor of Columbia University Zhou Wenzhong.

“We came because we’ve been to China a couple of times. We are interested in the culture, two different cultures,” Robert Hirt, concert patron said. “We are interested to listen to know what the fusion will be. I think I understand the idea of the openness and full thought translated into the music.”

It’s been more than two decades since these four Chinese composers have all been together. Tan Dun, Zhou Long and Chen Yi were classmates at Columbia University in the late 1980s who were discovered and brought together by Professor Zhou Wenzhong. Tan Dun said it took more than a 15-hour flight from Beijing to get his education in New York. He described his journey as one spanned over thousands of years through Chinese history. Professor Zhou Wenzhong stood behind him all the way.

“Professor Zhou let us recognize how beautiful Chinese culture and Chinese people are, how big the American dream is,” Composer Tan Dun said. “He makes us explore deep from Chinese culture to discover the aesthetics all the time and it is based on the Chinese traditional philosophy to get the inspiration.”

The group reconnected through their melodies, reminisced about the good and bad times and recalled the back in the day moments from learning under Professor Zhou Wenzhong. It was an occasion to show their gratitude, their love and their respect for their mentor.

Tan Dun said he was sorry his missed Zhou Wenzhong’s 90th birthday celebration last year, but brought along a belated gift from the heart, a song.

“I change the song Happy Birthday To You to a melody like jungle, nature and the extension of life and echo of love. This is the gift I would like to give Professor Zhou Wenzhong,” Dun said.