Musical Syncretism In Contemporary Chinese Piano Works



Lecture-recital, University of Delaware, USA, 2018.


Lecture-recital and Masterclass, University of North Dakota, USA, 2018.


Lecture-recital, Macalester College, MN, 2018.


Lecture-recital, Hong Kong Baptist University, 2018.


Lecture-recital, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2018.


Lecture-recital, University of Aveiro/Institute of Ethnomusicology, Centre for Studies in Music and Dance, Portugal, 2018.

Lecture-recital, Escola de Música Nossa Senhora do Cabo, Portugal, 2018.

Recital in the Midday Oasis Series, Chung Chi Chapel, Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2017.

Musical Syncretism in Contemporary Chinese Piano Works

The idea of returning to the composer’s cultural roots as sources of musical inspiration, as clichéd as it may sound, has been embraced as an effective metaphor for musical creativity in much of the twentieth century and beyond by Chinese musicians at home and abroad. This lecture recital will look at selected piano works by three well-known contemporary Chinese composers to examine the sonic attributes that have been framed as “Chinese” and “Western,” as well as the language and strategies of musical syncretism that have been featured so prominently in these compositions. In her much performed Ba Ban, Chen Yi (b.1953) juxtaposed what was essentially a pentatonic melodic template, or “mother tune,” for hundreds of traditional Chinese melodies with chromaticism and serialism. Liang Lei (b.1972), in his The Moon is Following Us, reinterpreted a Qinghai folksong and set the pitch materials in an avant-garde fashion. Zhou Long (b.1953) mixed percussive piano sound with two Chinese gongs to create Beijing opera-inspired sonority in his Pianogongs. The lecture recital will shed light on the interpretative choices of the composers and the purported integration of distinctive musical languages with explicit reference to folk, authentic compositional elements. I will also draw attention to the composers’ unique ways of expressing their cultural roots in the discourse of musical syncretism.


Zhou Long: Pianogongs (2007)
Harris Concert Hall, Piano Extravaganza Concert, Memphis International Piano Festival and Competition
Oct 5, 2018, Memphis, TN
Chen Yi: Ba Ban (1999)
Monday Oasis Concert Series, Chung Chi Chapel
Oct 23, 2017, Hong Kong