Jan 1, 2019
My guest today is MacArthur Foundation Genius award winner and one of the top composers around today, Bright Sheng!
A MacArthur fellow and proclaimed by the foundation as “an innovative composer who merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries”, Sheng has created an oeuvre that is not only with Asian influence but also with strong synthesis of Western musical tradition which makes his work distinctive and original. Sheng himself admits: “I consider myself both 100% American and 100% Asian.”
In September of 2016, in a co-production with the Hong Kong Arts Festival, with sold-out runs at both places, the San Francisco Opera premiered Sheng’s commissioned opera Dream of The Red Chamber featuring a libretto by David Henry Hwang and Sheng, based on a beloved Chinese novel by the eighteenth century writer Cao Xueqin. He conducted a three-city tour of the production in China.
In addition to composing, Sheng enjoys an active career as a conductor and concert pianist, and frequently acts as music advisor and artistic director to orchestras and festivals. He is currently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor at University of Michigan, and the Y. K. Pao Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where, in 2011, he founded and has been serving as the Artistic Director of The Intimacy of Creativity—The Bright Sheng Partnership: Composers Meet Performers in Hong Kong.
He was born in Shanghai, China and moved to New York where he pursued his graduate work and studied composition and conducting privately with his mentor Leonard Bernstein.