CHINESE ANCIENT DANCES
About this work:
Chinese Ancient Dances (2004)
for clarinet and piano
I. Ox Tail Dance
II. Hu Xuan Dance
Co-commissioned by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Virginia Arts Festival, La Jolla SummerFest, and Chamber Music Northwest in Portland, OR, the duet Chinese Ancient Dances is written for and dedicated to David Shifrin and Andre-Michel Schub for their national tour and the Alice Tully Hall concert on May 7, 2004, in which the complete work is given the world premiere. The premiere performance is dedicated to the celebration of the 70th birthday of Prof. Mario Davidovsky, one of the composer’s great professors and mentors at Columbia University. The work includes two movements: I. Ox Tail Dance; II. Hu Xuan Dance.
It’s said that in the ancient time, there is an ethnic group called Ge Tian Shi. Three people would dance in slow steps with ox tails in their hands, while singing eight songs to praise the earth, the totem of the black bird, the plants, the grains, the nature, the heaven, the weather, and the flourishment of breeding livestock. I got my imagination from the gestures of holding the ox tails, and went into the atmosphere of composing the first movement Ox Tail Dance.
The second movement is entitled Hu Xuan Dance. There is a poem Hu Xuan Lady written by the famous poet Bai Ju-Yi in Tang Dynasty, who described the Hu Xuan Dance in detail. The energetic dance has continuing fast spinning gestures, introduced to China from the West in the ancient time. I reproduced the image in the second movement, the music is written vividly for clarinet and piano.
Thanks to a request by Prof. Carrie Koffman at the Hartt School of Music, the University of Hartford, I have adapted the piece for soprano saxophone and piano for her to premiere in 2010.
Version: Clarinet and piano (Alt. version for saxophone and piano)
Year composed: 2004
Ensemble type: Solo instrument, non-keyboard:Clarinet
Instrumentation notes: Duet for clarinet and piano, published by Theodore Presser Company [114-41262] $12.95