The New Yorker praised Huang Ruo as “one of the world’s leading young composers.” He draws inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz to create an organic integration using a compositional technique he calls “Dimensionalism.” His works span from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance, to cross-genre, sound installation, multi-media, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film.
Huang Ruo’s music has been performed by leading orchestras and ensembles around the world; and he has served as the first composer in residence for the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and composer in residence for the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. His opera, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, had its American premiere by the Santa Fe Opera in 2014, and its Canadian premiere with the Vancouver Opera in 2017. His opera Paradise Interrupted received its world premiere at the 2015 Spoleto Festival USA, with subsequent performances at the 2016 Lincoln Center Festival, and in Asia and Europe.
Huang Ruo was born in Hainan Island, China in 1976–the year the Chinese Cultural Revolution ended. His father, also a composer, began teaching him composition and piano when he was six years old. Growing up in the 1980s and 90s following the Cultural Revolution, Huang Ruo received both traditional and Western education at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. There his education expanded from Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Lutoslawski, to include the Beatles, rock and roll, heavy metal, and jazz. As a member of a new generation of Chinese composers, his goal has been to mix Western and Eastern elements, drawing influences from various genres and cultures, to create a seamless integration and organic unity.
After winning the Henry Mancini Award at the 1995 International Film and Music Festival in Switzerland, Huang Ruo moved to the United States where he earned a Bachelor degree from the Oberlin Conservatory and Master and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in composition from the Juilliard School. Huang Ruo is on the composition faculty at the Mannes College of Music at the New School in New York, and he is artistic director and conductor of Ensemble FIRE (Future In REverse).
This is Huang Ruo’s third residency with the Cabrillo Festival. Folksongs for Orchestra will be performed during Aural Histories, Friday, August 3.
Photo by Wenjun Miakoda Liang