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World Premiere of Xiaoyong Chen’s “Yang Shen” at the Hamburg Klangwerktage 2007

Hamburg’s new festival “HAMBURGER KLANGWERKTAGE, Festival for Young Contemporary Music,” will be taking place this year from 19 to 24 November 2007 at Kampnagel Hamburg and has a highly interesting programme in store for listeners. Under the motto “Lied unlimited,” vocal works by composers including Jan Müller-Wieland, Sofia Gubaidulina, and Xiaoyong Chen will be performed.

The work by Chen being performed on 23 November is “Yang Shen” for soprano, three Chinese instruments, flute, clarinet, viola, cello and percussion based on ancient Chinese texts from the book “Shijing,” in a revised version. The soloists are members of the International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA) Frankfurt.

The central subject of the text is the disappointment of a person whose high ideals cannot be accepted by the governing powers, the composer explains. This text runs through the whole work like a red thread and is sung and spoken in the original language, Chinese. Several texts, translated into German, of the philosophers Lieh-tzu, Laotze, Confucius, who lived during and shortly after this period, have been integrated into the main text.

“The Chinese text and its interpretation functions primarily as a purely musical form of expression,” Chen explains further, “and goes far beyond its literal meaning. It is articulated and distorted in various ways, and the musical language of the composition constantly alternates between musical sounds, noises, silence and various languages. This musical variety impressively reflects the meaning of poem.