Bright Sheng

Blending the musical traditions of Asia and the classical tradition of the Western world, Bright Sheng is one of China's best young composers and pianists.

His compositions have been performed by pianist Peter Serkin, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Lucia Lin, the Houston Grand Opera Company, the John Oliver Chorale, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the late conductor Leonard Bernstein. His composition, "H'un (Lacerations) in Memoriam: 1966 - 1976," inspired by China's Cultural Revolution, has been performed by philharmonic orchestras in New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, San Francisco, Honolulu, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and Tokyo. The piece was recorded by Sheng with Serkin, Lisa Saffer, and the New York Chamber Symphony under the direction of Gerard Schwartz. Sheng later collaborated with Serkin and viola player Paul Neubuer on an album, Three Chinese Love Songs. Taught piano by his mother from the age of four, Sheng was one of the first students accepted by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. During the Cultural Revolution that dominated China from 1966 until 1976, he was sent to the remote province, Qinghai, on the Tibetan border. He remained in the region for seven years, collecting and studying Qinghai's folk music and touring with a folk music and dance ensemble. Moving to New York in 1982, Sheng strengthened his musical abilities as a student at Queens College, the City University of New York, and Columbia University. Returning to his homeland in 1996, he won a prestigious chamber music competition and an art song competition.

The United States has continued to support Sheng's musical vision. In addition to receiving a National Endowment for the Arts grant, he received grants from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the Illinois Council of the Arts, the Naumburg Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. The artistic director of the San Francisco Symphony's Wet Ink '93 festival, Sheng has been composer-in-residence for the Seattle Symphony and the Lyric Opera Company of Chicago and artist-in-residence for the University of Washington. Sheng's opera, The Song of Majnun, based on the Tibetan folk music of Qinghai and set to a libretto by Andrew Porter, was premiered, by the Houston Grand Opera Company, in April 1992. His composition, "Spring Dreams for Violoncello and Orchestra of Traditional Chinese Instruments," was performed by Yo-Yo Ma and the National Traditional Orchestra of China during a tour of the United States in February 1997. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi

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