About this work:
Chinese Folk Dance Suite Concerto for violin and orchestra (2000) Chen Yi (For The Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, and dedicated to the memory of Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky) I. Lion Dance II. YangKo III. Muqam Supported by a major commissioning award from the Serge Koussevitzky Music Foundation in the Library of Congress, my Chinese Folk Dance Suite is written for violin solo and orchestra, and premiered by The Women's Philharmonic with violin soloist Terrie Baune, conducted by Apo Hsu, on March 10, 2001, at Yerba Buena Center For the Arts Theater in San Francisco. Inspired by various Chinese traditional folk dances, I've composed three movements in the suite: 1) Lion Dance. Traditionally, people dance with richly decorated hand made lions, accompanied by percussion ensemble, to celebrate happy occasions and major festivals throughout the country. In the composition, I use Chinese drum and other percussion instruments in the background, to form a dynamic and rhythmic texture responding to the solo part, which imitates the tunes played on the suona (traditional Chinese trumpet); 2) YangKo. Originated in northern China, it's a major folk dance form in mass performance popularized in the country. In YangKo performance, people always play rhythmic patterns on the drums hung around their waists while singing and dancing. In my second movement, I have imagined a warm scene of YangKo dancing in distance. The solo violin plays a sweet and gracious melodic line while all members in the orchestra sing the non-pitch syllables in different layers as the soft background, to imitate the percussion sound which produces the ever going pulse. 3) Muqam. It is a large scale traditional music and dance form from Uygur nationality in Xinjiang province, originated in the 15th century. In my third movement, I keep the meter of seven eight and the melodic style of Muqam music. The fiery dancing gesture cumulates the sustained climax section at the end of the work, after a colorful violin cadenza in both improvisational singing style and polyphonic writing with woven lines. Scored for 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in Bb, 2 bassoons, 4 French horns in F, 2 trmpets in Bb, 3 trombones, percussion 1 (3 congas, low tom-tom, temple block, paddle castanets), percussion 2 (snare drum, 6” small Beijing opera gong, 12” big Beijing opera gong, crotales, tambourine), percussion 3 (suspended cymbal, a pair of 6” Chinese cymbals, bass drum), solo violin, violins I, violins II, violas, cellos and double basses. Duration is about 16 minutes. The work is recorded on Bis [CD-1352] and released in 2003, performed by Cho-Liang Lin and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Lan Shui.
The piano reduction of Chinese Folk Dance Suite is made by Wong Tak Chiu for saxophone and piano in 2017, and edited by Chen Yi for saxophone and piano or violin and piano in 2018.