Today we would like to give you some background information on composer Zhou Long whose compositions were recently released on the album Spirit of Chimes – Chamber music of Zhou Long.
Zhou Long (b. July 8, 1953, Beijing) is internationally recognized for creating a unique body of music that brings together the aesthetic concepts and musical elements of East and West. Deeply grounded in the entire spectrum of his Chinese heritage, including folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals, he is a pioneer in transferring the idiomatic sounds and techniques of ancient Chinese musical traditions to modern Western instruments and ensembles. Zhou Long speaks with an original, uncompromising voice. His family nurtured his talent for the piano; his advanced training was disrupted by the Cultural Revolution. (He was sent to drive a tractor in a remote rural area.) Later, Zhou Long was one of one hundred, chosen from eighteen thousand applicants, when the Central Conservatory reopened in 1977.
Following graduation in 1983, he was appointed composer-in-residence with the National Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra of China. Zhou Long travelled to the United States in 1985 under a fellowship to attend Columbia University, where he studied with Chou Wen-Chung, Mario Davidovsky, and George Edwards, receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1993. After more than a decade as music director of Music from China in New York City, he received ASCAP’s prestigious Adventurous Programming Award in 1999.
A United States citizen since 1999, Zhou Long is married to the composer-violinist Chen Yi. It should be noted that Zhou is his family name and Long is his personal name, and thus he should be referred to as Mr. Zhou or Dr. Zhou.
“Zhou Long displays a stunning (quasi-tactile) orchestral imagination that dramatically demonstrates his skill of embedding elements of the two cultures in a consistent, seamless, and original musical language.” — American Academy of Arts and Letters
“Zhou Long is one of a group of Chinese composers, brought up during the Cultural Revolution and now living in the West, who are creating striking works that fuse memories and music from the East with Western-style compositions. Drawing on Chinese folk songs, literature, poetry and history, they are the first generation of Chinese composers to be widely performed around the world.” — Newsweek International
His honors include First prizes in the Ensemblia in Mönchengladbach (1990, for Ding [Samadhi]), d’Avray (France, 1991, for Dhyana), Barlow (1994, for Tian Ling), and Masterprize (1998, for Two Poems from Tang) competitions, as well as many earlier prizes in national competitions in China. Most recently, he received the Adventurous Programming Award from ASCAP (1999, for Music from China), a Grammy Award (1999, for the Teldec CD of his Words of the Sun and works by other composers) and the Academy Award in Music for lifetime achievement from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2003). He has also received fellowships from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts and various grants. Numerous ensembles, orchestras and organizations in China, Germany, Ireland, Japan, the UK, and the USA have commissioned him.
“Thinking about what we could do to share different cultures in our new society, I have been composing music seriously to achieve my goal of improving the understanding between peoples from various backgrounds. My conceptions have often come from ancient Chinese poetry. There are musical traits directly reminiscent of ancient China: sensitive melodies, expressive glissandi in various statements, and, in particular, a peculiarly Chinese undercurrent of tranquillity and meditation. The cross-fertilization of color, material, and technique, and on a deeper level, cultural heritage, makes for challenging work.” — Dr. Zhou Long
“Today multi-media and technology provide so many possibilities to creative artists. Still, musical inspiration is often born from the beauty of the nature. Verses of poetry may give you the frame; the movements of calligraphy may give you the rhythm; an ancient dark ink painting may give you space, distance and layers; a variety of sound sources may give you the color. Finally, craft ensures your own full expression.” — Dr. Zhou Long
Click to purchase Spirit of Chimes – Chamber Music of Zhou Long