Swiss orchestra celebrates Chinese composer's work

By Chen Jie ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-03-23 08:20:05

Swiss orchestra celebrates Chinese composer's work

Dennis Russell Davies will lead the Basel Symphony Orchestra to perform pieces by Chinese composer Chen Yi in Beijing and Shanghai. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The Basel Symphony Orchestra of Switzerland will tour China with two concerts in Beijing and Shanghai this week. Under the baton of its chief conductor Dennis Russell Davies, the orchestra will perform Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky classics plus Chinese composer Chen Yi's Ge Xu Antiphony.

In an e-mail interview, the US-based Chen said, the US conductor Davies had supported her throughout her professional career. He was the first foreign conductor to commission her to write a piano concerto, when he was the music director of the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra in New York.

Chen's doctoral dissertation work at Columbia University, a piano concerto, was premiered by Davies and the Brooklyn orchestra in 1994, and was subsequently performed in Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center by other orchestras.

"He knew my music from hearing my Symphony No 1 when the China Youth Symphony toured Europe in 1987. He was then the music director of Bonn Symphony Orchestra," says the Chinese composer, 61.

Davies also gave a New York premiere of Chen's Symphony No 2 with the American Composers Orchestra, which he led as its music director in 1995.

Davies and Chen are both members of the Artist Advisory Board of the American Composers Orchestra, which supports new music and other composers. They organized a Chinese Music Festival when he invited Chen to bring a Chinese traditional instrumental ensemble to perform with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra in Germany.

Later, Chen was also commissioned to write a saxophone quartet concerto for the orchestra and a double piano work for Davies to perform in Germany, California and New York's Lincoln Center Festival.

"Davies is really a strong advocate for new music and young composers. I respect him with deep admiration and gratitude. I was so excited to learn that he will bring my Ge Xu with the Basel Symphony Orchestra to China. The piece is full of energy, freshness, in strong Chinese folk style," Chen says.

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