Posted by Ricordi 16 June 2015:
We are pleased to announce that as of July 1 Ricordi, a member of the Universal Music Publishing group, has signed Chinese-American composer Huang Ruo. We will represent his entire existing catalog as well as all future works worldwide.
Huang Ruo, born in 1976, has been lauded by The New Yorker as “one of the world’s leading young composers”. He resides in New York and is currently composer-in-residence at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan. His oeuvre includes five stage works, including the opera Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, dozens of orchestra and ensemble pieces as well as multi-media installations.
Huang Ruo’s “distinctive style” (New York Times) draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration.
Find out more in this interview.
Please introduce yourself: where were you born, where did you grow up, where did you live and where is your home right now?
I was born in the tropical Hainan Island in China, and grew up in Hainan, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. I came to the United States when I was 18. At first, I was studying English in Los Angeles: a true wild-wild west to me then! I went on to study at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio for my BM degree in composition, then received MM and Ph.D. degrees in composition from The Juilliard School in New York City. I still call New York home and have lived there since 2000.
What role does classical and contemporary music play in China?
Classical music started coming back to China after the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976. It is a blooming scene now. It I still remember growing up in the ‘80s and early ‘90s in China, when Chinese people started wearing more diverse clothing while riding on bicycles, and listening to pop and classical music from the West. Some young parents would buy a piano to put at home even before their child was born. Contemporary music, however, is still taking baby steps in China now. Slowly, people are more aware of the importance of new music, individuality, and an original voice being heard.
What does Ricordi mean to you?
Ricordi is one of the top international publishers for classical music in the world. I first encountered Ricordi’s publications when I was studying at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Since then, I have always had fond admiration and respect for what Ricordi presents. Ricordi publishes some of the world’s most prominent composers from the past and today. It is truly my great honor to join the stellar list of composers of Ricordi and to have my entire catalogue represented and published by Ricordi.
Please tell us more about your opera Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is the first of my four operas written thus far. Like one’s first child, it holds a special place in my heart. It is a 21st-Century opera that integrates both Eastern and Western operatic style and traditions. Written for Western operatic voices and sung in Mandarin Chinese with some parts in Cantonese, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen is scored for chamber orchestra with the addition of three traditional Chinese instruments.
Its plot is about the personal life and struggle of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, who is the founding father of modern China and who helped overthrown the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty in 1911. After its world premiere with Opera Hong Kong in 2011, the Santa Fe Opera gave the American premiere in 2014 and the Vancouver Opera will next give the Canadian premiere in 2017.
You are currently composer-in-residence at the Concertgebouw. Please tell us more about this!
Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam has recently invited me to be their composer-in-residence for its 2015-2016 season. I will be living in and experiencing the amazing city of Amsterdam for a while. Among my various activities during my residency, I will be creating a new work to be premiered at the Concertgebouw for its 2016-2017 season.
What projects are you working on right now?
I just finished my new installation opera Paradise Interrupted, which received its world premiere at the Spoleto Festival USA, and a new symphony Becoming Another written for the National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, of which I am also the composer-in-residence. My next project is a piano concerto titled Unscrolled, which has been commissioned by the NTR ZaterdagMatinee and will be premiered by Het Residentie Orkest /The Hague Philharmonic at the Concertgebouw on December 12, 2015, with conductor Emilio Pomàrico and pianist Emanuele Arciuli.
What project do you dream of?
I first saw the award winning documentary film The Story of the Weeping Camel 10 years ago, and was deeply touched and connected to it. The film is about a mother camel disowning her newborn calf because it is an albino camel and caused her a lot of pain during its difficult delivery. The baby camel cries day and night, and starts feeling fearful of the mother as she kicks and refuses to feed the baby.
While the baby calf is starving and dying, a Mongolian horse-head fiddle player performs spiritual music that deeply touches the mother camel, to the point of tears. It was the simple yet powerful sound of the horse-head fiddle that magically changes the mother camel’s heart as she starts accepting and feeding her own baby calf. After seeing the film multiple times, I envision adapting the true story into an otherworldly and innovational opera-theatre. The Story of the Weeping Camel is my special personal project that I hope one day can find a home at a suitable festival, venue, or opera house that can produce and breathe life into it.