Tan Dun: Tea

The composer of the film music Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon

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Program notes

About Tea, an opera written by the famous Chinese composer Tan Dun.

Directed by Frank Scheffer, Tea is a documentary about the opera of the same name by the Chinese composer Tan Dun, famous for his film music Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and, Hero as well as for the worldwide broadcast by the BBC of 2000 Today, a piece written for the passage of the year 2000.

Born in 1957 in the Hunan, Tan Dun grew up to the sound of the chants of the shamans of his province. Caught up in the bloodthirsty Cultural Revolution, he was sent to a re-education camp. When it re-opened its doors in 1978, he entered the Peking Conservatory where he attended the lectures of guest professors such as George Crumb, Hans Werner Henze and Tori Takmitsu. In his first symphony Tan Dun already includes a Chinese chant from the fourth century in a "classical" composition, he combines Western and Asian composition techniques to create a unique mix between the two Major musical traditions. John Cage has said of him, "We need his music since East and West are coming closer together."

Tan Dun, who now lives in New York, took inspiration from the tea ceremony to write his opera. Tea is a tragic love story built on the "cha no yu," the Japanese tea ritual, and the starting point of a "journey" in the mystical world of "cha do." A world in which the ultimate objective is, as Tan Dun puts it, "to hear the colour and see the sound."

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