Overwhelming Success for Xiaoyong Chen in Hamburg: Sold-Out Rolf Liebermann Studio

The latest event of the editorial office “das neue werk” at the NDR at the Rolf Liebermann Studio, a portrait-concert of Xiaoyong Chen, was a great success for the Chinese composer. None other than his fellow-countryman, Muhai Tang, conducted the premiere of Chen’s new orchestral work “Colours of Dreams” with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Chai Found Music Workshop from Taiwan.

Lutz Lesle wrote the following about the concert in the daily newspaper DIE WELT (edition of 26 May 2008):

“(…) Xiaoyong Chen is a quiet Chinese in our country. After an adventurous journey with the Trans-Siberian, he came over the German-German border by foot in 1985. After he had come across a score by György Ligeti in Beijing, there was only one thing for him: to go to Hamburg!

The best piece of advice that the wise Maestro gave him was: ‘You shouldn’t be Chinese, you should be Chen.’ Chen became Chen. He stayed in the Hanseatic city, married, won the Bach Prize stipend, became a university lecturer in Chinese, a composer published by Sikorski Music Publishers and a member of the Free Academy. For all that, he didn’t stop being Chinese. He returns to his homeland several times a year and has been Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory since 2006.

Occidental and Asian instruments frequently make a Western-Eastern divan in his music – spread between yin and yang, deeply rooted in the Tao, the All-One. Chen’s sound-world has a rather silent and shy effect, like the man himself. Whoever does not make any fuss does not appear in the media. That’s why people in Hamburg asked: ‘Chen – who’s that?’

The editorial studio “das neue werk” now paid him a long-overdue reverence at the Liebermann Studio.

The double evening united soloists and the full NDR Symphony Orchestra under guest conductor Muhai Tang with the CFMW Ensemble from Taiwan: an agile little virtuoso group with Chinese fiddle, board zither, plucked lutes, mouth-organ and bamboo transverse flute. They introduced themselves with pentatonic “traditional music” before devoting themselves to Chen’s sonic experiences of being and of the senses together with the NDR musicians: ‘Speechlessness, Clearness and Ease,’ ‘Floating Colours’ and – a world premiere of an NDR commission – ‘Colours of Dreams’ (2008) (…).”