From the Path of Beauty

A Song Cycle for Mixed Choir and String Quartet

Chen Yi

Rental
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The work is a seven-movement song cycle for mixed choir and string quartet, which includes the first movement for choir or quartet, two movements for string quartet, and the other four movements for choir with string quartet. It was commissioned by Chanticleer and the Shanghai Quartet, with major assistance from The Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation and Kathleen G. Henschel, and additional support provided by The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, J. C. Property Investment, Tom & Patricia Klitgaard and Mary D. Lau, for the celebration of their 30th and 25th anniversaries. The work was premiered on March 13, 2008 in San Francisco, with the first New York performance on April 11, 2008 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The string quartet version (movements I, IV, VI and II) was co-commissioned and premiered by the Shanghai Quartet at the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 2008. The composition is dedicated to Mr. Peter Henschel and Mr. Gordon Lau, honoring their great devotion and contribution to the friendship between the San Francisco Bay Area and China, with the greater hope of improving cultural understanding between two countries, and also world peace.

The music brings us through the history of beauty in Chinese arts, from the ancient totems to the figurines, from poetry to calligraphy, from dance to music ? from the thoughts to the spirit, it?s deep in expression and rich in color, lyrical yet dramatic. In the entire piece, the choir sings nonsense syllables taken from various Chinese folksongs.

The imagination of the first movement The Bronze Taotie came from the image of the bronze taotie of the Shang Dynasty (C. 1600 ? C.1100 B. C.), using 12-part a cappella in clusters and banding tones, to trace back to the ritual spirit, remote yet powerful. In the second movement The Dancing Ink, the strings have woodwind-like running passages, representing the exaggerated shapes and gestures in Chinese cursive from Tang Dynasty (618 ? 907). The third movement The Ancient Totems is for choir and strings, the combination of multi layers sounds delicate and mysterious. The string quartet plays in non-traditional textures ? sometimes using dark and dense blocks of moving chords with contrast of harmonic tones in the background, sometimes imitating Chinese operatic singing and reciting, as like in the fourth movement The Rhymed Poems, which is an instrumental realization of musical reading two poems by Li Qingzhao from Song Dynasty, 960 ? 1279 in Mandarin). The fifth movement The Clay Figurines is inspired by the exaggerated gesture of a clay storyteller made in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. ? 220 A.D.). The large interval upward skip in singing ?Oi Yi, Oi Yi? sounds vivid and humorous. The sixth movement is the polyphonic development of a simple pitch material drawn from the qin (7-string ancient Chinese zither) music ?Secluded Orchid in the Mode of Jie Shi" from the Six Dynasties period (497 ? 590). The last movement The Village Band takes the choir and the strings to form a village percussion wind band. All instruments and voices imitate different Chinese folk percussion and wind instruments in a traditional fixed rhythmic pattern. The music keeps the warmth and the momentum up to the ending climax.

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Scores & Parts

The Bronze Taotie - Octavo
From The Path Of Beauty - Score and Part(s)

Additional Information

Commission Chanticleer and the Shanghai Quartet, with major assistance from The Carol Franc Buck Foundation, the Fleishhacker Foundation and Kathleen G. Henschel, and additional support provided by The Ann & Gordon Getty Foundation, J. C. Property Investment, Tom &
Composition Date 2008
Duration 00:30:00
Orchestration Chorus; 2Vln. Vla. Vcl
Premiere March, 2008. Chanticleer, Shanghai String Quartet, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, California.

Details

I. The Bronze Taotie (for Choir)
II. The Dancing Ink (for String Quartet)
III. The Ancient Totems (for Choir and String Quartet)
IV. The Rhymed Poems (for String Quartet)
V. The Clay Figurines (for Choir and String Quartet)
VI. The...

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