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Marsyas Productions Celebrates Composer Chou Wen-Chung's 90th Birthday Tonight

Marsyas Productions honors master composer Chou Wen-chung with a very special 90th birthday tribute concert featuring Boston Musica Viva, Talujon, flutist Jayn Rosenfeld and pianist Christopher Oldfather tonight, February 20th at 8pm.

Chou Wen-chung searched the Far East for clues about the nature of Chinese music; in the end he emerged as a highly distinguished International voice.

On the Program:

Echoes from the Gorge


Twilight Colors for six instruments

Boston Musica Viva

Cursive for flute and piano

Jayn Rosenfeld & Christopher Oldfather

It all takes place at Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W. 67th Street, New York, NY. For more information, call (212) 501-3330. Subway: 1 to 66th St./Lincoln Center; 2 & 3 to 72nd St. General Admission Orchestra/Balcony: $30/$20; Student/Senior Admission: $10. Tickets and info:

About Marsyas Productions: Marsyas Productions is the production unit of the Roger Shapiro Fund for New Music (RSF). Established by composer/pianist Dina Koston, who named the endowment after her husband, psychiatrist Roger Shapiro, the Roger Shapiro Fund is a new fund for the commissioning, performance and recording of contemporary classical music with special emphasis given to music in the Western modernist tradition.

Chou Wen-chung, Composer: Chou Wen-chung's earliest work, Landscapes for orchestra (finished in 1949 and premiered by Leopold Stokowski with the San Francisco Symphony in 1953), is often cited as the first composition that is independent of either Western or Eastern musical grammar. Subsequently, his research for integration of musical concepts and practices led to his ever-evolving theory on his pien (variable) modes, influenced by concepts found in yin-yang and I Jing theories, Dao philosophy, brush calligraphy, and qin (Chinese zither) music, as well as early and modern European theories. It began with two works for wind orchestra, Metaphors (1959) and Riding the Wind (1964), but evolved steadily through such works as Pien (1966) for chamber ensemble, Echoes from the Gorge (1989) for percussion quartet, the Cello Concerto (1992), and most recently, the two string quartets, Clouds (1996) and Streams (2003).

Chou was introduced to Edgard Vare?se by Colin McPhee in 1949, and became Vare?se's student and assistant during the years when Vare?se was composing his last works, including De?serts (1949-1954), the manuscript of which is, in fact, in Chou's handwriting. His decades-long task of editing and correcting Vare?se's scores began under Vare?se's supervision, but was mostly undertaken after his death, including both versions of Ame?riques. [sic] Chou has also completed two of Vare?se's unfinished scores.

Chou's ambitious goal has been the revival the polyphonic style in contemporary music. His revival attempt is based not on influences but on confluences of music. His concept of "re-merger" is to view one's own heritage as the source of creativity and that the future of human civilization will entirely depend on the interaction and synthesis of Eastern and Western civilizations.

Chou's style is refined, transparent, melodious, and highly emotional. His inventive and unique melodies combine the finest of European polyphony with cursive brush calligraphy. As a result, his countrapuntal writings are among the most thoughtful and detailed and yet the most expressive in the contemporary music.

As Varese's literary executor, he not only completed Nocturnal and Tunning up but also edited almost all the Varese works, and orchestrated Etude Pour Espace. As a distinguished professor for nearly thirty years at Columbia, he has taught more than sixty young composers around the world and has inspired many of them to search beyond European traditions. Chou served as vice dean of the School of the Arts (1976-1987) and Chairman of its doctoral composition program (1969-1989) of Columbia. He was responsible for setting up the first Asian humanities course at Columbia. Under his presidency (1970-1975), Composers Recording, Inc. was brought into financial solvency. Guided by his belief in the confluence of music, he founded the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange at Columbia University (1978) "with the acknowledgement of both governments immediately before the revival of diplomatic relations." The Center subsequently launched many far-reaching projects to promote cultural and educational exchange in Pacific Rim area. (written by Dr. Shyhji Pan-Chew)

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