Xiaoyong Chen: complex novelties out of the traditional

The first opening of the Chinese composer Xiaoyong Chen’s new work ‘Speechlessness, Clearness, and Ease’ at the March Festival in Berlin on 28th March 2004 was celebrated with ardour. The second performance, held in the Concert Hall Vienna, was just as successful. Heinz Rögel writes in the Salzburger Nachrichten about this event:

“The Klangforum Wien performed together with one of the leading ensembles for traditional Chinese and contemporary music, the China Found Music Workshop from Taipeh, in the Concert Hall Vienna. In this project seven composers of different origins try to find a new musical language to combine and communicate between Asian and European Culture. Thrilling is the experience when Western instruments form a union with the traditional Chinese mouth organ (sheng), the bamboo pipe violin (erhu), the lute instruments pipa or ruan or the trapeze zither (yangquin), which can be used in surprisingly avantgardistic manners and are extremely diversified. But this mix is never just a simple crossover.

The quality of the music pieces, written partly by Asian and partly by European composers, varied greatly. Most impressive were those composition which left enough space for the sensual-virtuous peculiarities of the instruments and the original ‘musicalistic’ – in whatever constructive context they may stand. Exquisitely was this achieved by the contributions of the two Chinese composers Tung Chao-Ming and Xiaoyong Chen (both of whom live in Germany) who managed to create complex novelties out of the traditional.”