Morningside Music Bridge: Tan Dun Lecture on Compositional Process of "Buddha Passion"
Inspired by the powerful history of spiritual and cultural exchange of China's Mogao Caves, as well as the groundbreaking musical history discovered in the Dunhuang murals from the 4th-14th Centuries, Tan Dun spent two years locating, visiting, researching, and documenting the lost musical manuscripts of the Library Cave and the over 40 instrument illustrations found on its walls. The instruments illustrated in such paintings tell the story of a neglected part of music history that is little known by the outside world. With his research and unique musical reconstruction, Tan Dun seeks to redefine the history of the orchestra and to offer audiences the opportunity to hear the sound of Dunhuang from more than 1,000 years ago. In helping to recreate these sounds, Tan Dun has spent years researching and replicating instruments found on the cave walls and has currently created four instruments: Nayin Four-String Pipa, Five-String Pipa, Ji Qin and the Fan Tan Pipa.
Tan Dun's fascination and countless hours of research to translate and unearth "the ancient sounds of Dunhuang" culminated in an ambitious new work, weaving chants, stories, and sounds of Dunhuang into an oratorio of six individual short stories. Entitled Buddha Passion, the work captures the ancient narratives of the Buddha's teachings and the timeless, universal concepts of love, forgiveness and sacrifice, where Tan Dun summarizes the stories portrayed on the walls of the Mogao Caves in an extraordinary and unique musical work. Premiered in May, 2019 at the Dresden Festival, and most recently in the U.S. with the LA Philharmonic in February, Tan Dun will share how his research helped create the monumental new work weaving stories that have lived in the hearts and minds of the Eastern World for thousands of years.
- Tan Dun, Composer