CHEN Yi: Ba Ban (1999)

Ba Ban (1999) demonstrates how Chen Yi synthesize pentatonic folk materials with chromaticism and serialism, and take reference from the compositional structure of Ba Ban, a pentatonic melodic template, or “mother tune”, for hundreds of traditional Chinese melodies.
Live recording from recital "Chinese Contemporary Composers"
2017 Oct 23, 12:30 pm
Monday Oasis Concert Series, Chung Chi Chapel, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
CHEN Yi: Ji-Dong-Nuo (2005)

Ji-Dong-Nuo (2005) was inspired by a folk ballad of Yao ethic people, drawing some pitch material from the folk tune while keeping the characteristics of the girl and the style of Chinese traditional instrumental performance. It demonstrates how Chen Yi evoke Chinese folk style without explicit musical borrowing.
Rehearsal recording for lecture-recital "A New Voice of Chinese-Western Syncretism: The Solo Piano Works of Chen Yi"
2013 August 3, 1:00 pm
International Conference of Feminist Theory and Music: New Voices in New Millennium, Wellin Hall, Hamilton College, USA

Video recording available at
ZHOU Long: Pianogongs (2007) for piano and two Chinese Opera gongs

Pianogongs (2007) illustrates how Zhou Long create a new texture by putting two seemingly incompatible instruments together. He carefully transplants Beijing Opera percussion playing technique onto the piano to match with various sound effects of the gongs.
Live recording from Piano Extravanganza Concert
2018 October 5
Memphis International Piano Festival and Competition
Harris Concert Hall, University of Memphis, USA
ZHOU Long: Pianobells (2012) for piano


In his Pianobells, Zhou Long quotes culture through drawing musical images from Chinese literature. The legend of great bells that ring spontaneously without being stuck in the Classic of "Mountains and Seas"《山海經》and the frosty bells described in Li Bai’s poem “Listening to Jun"《聽蜀僧濬彈琴》become two types of bell sound in this piece: rumble of sound waves made by striking of low strings inside the piano and the micro-vibration from the highest register that dart in and out. Together, these bell sounds recall the voices of bells borne on the wind from valleys and canyons. 

Live recording from recital in "Pianists of the World Series"
2020 Jan 31
St Martin in the Fields, London, UK
Excerpt from Lecture-Recital "One Piano, Two Cultures"


February 5, 2020
SOAS Department of Music and SOAS China Institute
University of London
Kamran Djam Lecture Theater, Russell Square, London, UK

Syncretising elements from different cultures 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 four contemporary Chinese composers, living away from the direct jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China in particular, 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 identified as an expression of their cultural identities in their 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. Wendy Lee (b.1977) draw on aesthetic principles in her new composition without iconic reference to Chinese sounds. Zhou Long (b.1953) mixed percussive piano sound with two Chinese gongs to create Beijing opera-inspired sonority in his Pianogongs. He portrayed images from the ancient Classic of Mountains and Seas and a poem by Li Bai (701-762) with sonority produced inside the piano to create his Pianobells. In his Les marées de la nuit, Chen Kai-Young (b. 1987) formed a myriad of overtones by assimilating lower-register piano tone-clusters and unceasing tremolo of tam-tam (Ancient Chinese chau gong). 

George Tsontakis: Three Sighs, Three Variations (1981)

Three Sighs, Three Variations was composed during a seven-month stay in Rome, where Tsontakis  was a student at L’Accademia di Santa Cecilia.  They were meant to be musical postcards, never mailed, but imagined to be sent to friends back home.  The tiny pieces, composed of short, but expressive gestures, are light in weight, but dark in color.  They are truly sighs, which reflect brief pangs felt by a young visitor far from the familiar surroundings of home, shortened and softened by the idyllic breadth and gentle spirit of the host country.

Live recording from recital "Contemporary Works for Violin and Piano"
2019 Feb 18
Monday Oasis Concert Series, Chung Chi Chapel, The Chinese University of Hong Kong