A world-renowned artist and UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador, Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. A winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award, Bach Prize, Shostakovich Award, and Italy’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, Tan Dun’s music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television. He was recently named as Dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music.
Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard widely by international audiences. His first Internet Symphony, which was commissioned by Google/YouTube, has reached over 23 million people online. His Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic has frequented major concert halls and festivals. Paper Concerto was premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Hall. His multimedia work, The Map, premiered by YoYo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has toured more than 30 countries worldwide.
A conductor of innovative programs around the world, Tan Dun currently serves as the Honorary Artistic Director of the China National Symphony Orchestra, and as Artistic Ambassador of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In 2016, Tan Dun conducted the grand opening celebration of Disneyland Shanghai. Tan Dun has led the world’s most esteemed orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, among others.
As a visual artist, Tan Dun’s work has been featured at the opening of the China Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale. Other solo exhibitions include the New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Beijing’s Chambers Fine Art Gallery, and Shanghai Gallery of Art. Most recently, Tan Dun conducted The Juilliard Orchestra in the world premiere of his Symphony of Colors: Terracotta for the opening of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s epic exhibition The Age of Empires.
As a global cultural leader, Tan Dun uses his creativity to raise awareness of environmental issues and to protect cultural diversity. In 2010, as “Cultural Ambassador to the World” for the World EXPO Shanghai, Tan Dun envisioned, curated and composed two special site-specific performances that perform year-round and have since become cultural representations of Shanghai: Peony Pavilion, a Chinese opera set in a Ming Dynasty garden and his Water Heavens string quartet which promotes water conservation and environmental awareness. Tan Dun was also commissioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to write the Logo Music and Award Ceremony Music for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Tan Dun currently serves as Honorary Chair of Carnegie Hall’s China Advisory Council, and has previously served as Creative Chair of the 2014 Philadelphia Orchestra China Tour, Associate Composer/Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, and Artistic Director of the Festival Water Crossing Fire held at the Barbican Centre.
Tan Dun’s recordings have garnered many accolades, including a Grammy Award (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and nomination (The First Emperor; Marco Polo; Pipa Concerto), Japan’s Recording Academy Awards for Best Contemporary Music CD (Water Passion after St. Matthew) and the BBC’s Best Orchestral Album (Death and Fire).
Tan Dun’s multimedia symphonic work, Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women will receive its West Coast Premiere at the Cabrillo Festival on Saturday, August 10, featuring harpist Sarah Fuller, and the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, conducted by Cristian Măcelaru.
In this video, Tan Dun shares his experience traveling to the remote area of Jiangyong county in China over a 12-year period, to collect the stories and songs passed down over generations. Micro films from his travels are incorporated into Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women.