About this work:
Chinese Poems (1999) for girl's chorus
CHEN Yi (born 1953)
Commissioned and premiered by the San Francisco Girls Chorus on May 24, 1999, at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, Chinese Poems consists of five songs written for six different levels of girl's chorus. The text is taken from popular Chinese ancient poems, three written by prominent poets Li Po and Wang Zhi-huang in Tang Dynasty (618-907), two selected from the Yuefu Collection of Poems, an anthology of ancient Chinese folk poems and songs, complied by Guo Mao-qian in Song Dynasty (960-1279). Sung in Chinese, the five poems and songs express the Chinese thoughts inspired by the landscapes and the daily life. It's the tradition carried on for thousand years that I want to introduce to our new audiences.
I. Up the Crane Tower (by Wang Zhi-huan, Eighth century)
Pale sun on hill dies,
Yellow River seaward flows,
To view thousand lis,
One more flight we go.
Notes: Yellow River is the second largest river of China. Li is a Chinese mile, equivalent to 500
meters. The poem means that there is no limit to knowledge, one should keep studying.
II. Picking the Seedpods of the Lotus (ancient folk song in the south)
Picking the seedpods of the lotus in the south,
O the flourishing lotus leaves,
The fishes are playing in between.
The fishes are playing East,
The fishes are playing West,
The fishes are playing South,
The fishes are playing North.
III. Night Thoughts (by Li Po)
On couch bright moon shone,
Thought frost on ground foamed,
Raised head facing bright moon,
Lowered head dreaming of home.
IV. Chile Song (ancient folk song of Chile minority nationality in the north)
The Chile Plains,
Under the Mount Yin.
The qionglu-like sky,
Above the open ground.
Vast is the sky,
Boundless the wilds,
See the beasts of burden
On the wind swept grass.
Notes: Chile is a minority in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-581). Mount Yin is
located in Inner Mongolia. Qionglu is a Mongolian domed tent.
V. The Cataract of Mount Lu (by Li Po)
In the warm sunlight, the purple smokes rising from the Censer Peak,
In the distance, the cataract hanging between the gorges.
The flying torrent drops straight down three thousand feet,
I wonder if it were the Milky Way falling from the Ninth Heaven!
Notes: In ancient China, people thought that there are nine heavens lain one higher than another,
the ninth is the highest.
English translation by Chen Yi
Version: Treble choir, sung in Chinese
Year composed: 1999
Ensemble type: Chorus, with or without Solo Voices:Chorus, Unaccompanied
Instrumentation notes: Children Choruses