Tang Poems Cantata

for SATB Chorus and Chamber Orchestra

Chen Yi

Duration: 00:15:00
Publisher: Theodore Presser Company
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Tang Poems Cantata was commissioned by a Lilly Endowment Grant for Multiculturalism and is dedicated to Bradley University and the Department of Music. It is written for choir with soloists and instrumental ensemble and is performed in the Chinese Mandarin dialect.

In the first song, ?Leaving the White King City for Jiangling?, the tenor solo (in dramatic Chinese operatic style) is accompanied by the lingering background of the choir and the ever-moving rhythm of the Chinese percussion. The music supports the poem in expressing the poet?s forthright and optimistic spirit, as if overlooking all mountains from a quickly-moving boat in the Yangtze River.

Beginning with a soft unison in altos and tenors, the pantonal melody of the second song, ?Written on a Rainy Night to My Wife in the North?, takes its folk song elements from southwestern China. When the theme moves to the sopranos, the repeated melody in low strings and the dense bass frame the entire piece and bring it into an endless mood of nostalgia.

The third song, ?Grass?, features a constant two-part motif with irregular downbeats and vivid paddling syllables. It suggests the poet?s sorrow at being apart from a friend. The melodic material is mixed from the folk story-telling song styles in southeastern China. Recitative-like tunes are contrasted with smooth melodic lines.

In the last song, ?Ascending the Watch Tower at Youzhou?, the music expresses the tragic, heroic, sentimental emotions of the poet through a reciting monologue (as if the poet had looked up at the sky and sighed deeply), melodic lines with large skips, an unpitched chanting choral background, a lonely clarinet solo, and the dramatic and passionate tutti imitating a strongly-played pipa (a Chinese plucked instrument).

Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by a Lilly Endowment Grant for Multiculturalism
Composition Date 1995
Orchestration SATB Chorus; 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 0; Timp. Perc. Pno. Str.
Premiere 27th April, 1995. Bradley University New Music Ensemble, The Bradley Chorale and Instrumental Ensemble, conducted by John Jost, Bradley University, Peoria, IL.


I. Leaving the White King City for Jiangling
II. Written on a Rainy Night to My Wife in the North
III. Grass ,IV. Ascending the Watch Tower at Youzhou