Huang Ruo’s career wasn’t his to choose. His fortune-teller grandfather and composer father did that for him, and at the age of 12 he was packed off to a distant music conservatory in Shanghai as his mother wept. Sad as that may sound, it all worked out remarkably well. Huang Ruo’s path eventually took him from China to the U.S., to Oberlin and Julliard, and today it’s hard to imagine him as anything other than the prolific and exuberant composer he’s become.
His work draws on all the music he heard growing up in China and in the years since – from ancient ritual chants and folk songs to classical, rock and pop (both Chinese and Western) – to create something that feels integral, vibrant and new. He’s also a wonderful singer, as you’ll hear in this very musical interview.