Elizabeth Hainen & Philadelphia Orchestra to Present U.S. Premiere of NU-SHU: THE SECRET SONGS OF WOMEN, 10/31-11/1
"We are unfortunately still living in a world where millions of women are victims to discrimination and violence. For me, playing this piece represents an incredible opportunity to introduce audiences to a secret society of women who have had to devise their own way to communicate. Tan's ability to tell their stories and give their ancient language a current voice is remarkable."
In Tan's orchestration, some of the villagers' songs are treated simply, while others serve as jumping-off points for more intricate textures and harmonies. Not all of the films include singing: some capture the ambient sounds of the village, woven into the live orchestral fabric.
Right: a song, "How to Train a Woman," in Nu-Shu calligraphy (top) and Chinese.
Nu-Shu: The Secret Songs of Women came into being as part of a Philadelphia Commissions Micro-Festival, October 31 - November 2, a key artistic initiative of Nézet-Séguin's second season as the orchestra's Music Director. Three international composers have been commissioned to compose solo works for three of the Orchestra's principal musicians. Along with the US premiere of Nu-Shu with Hainen, Nézet-Séguin will conduct Principal Flute Jeffrey Khaner in the premiere of Behzad Ranjbaran's Flute Concerto, and Principal Bassoon Daniel Matsukawa in the premiere of David Ludwig's Pictures from the Floating World, for bassoon and orchestra. Over the course of three days, the Orchestra will present three distinct programs, each containing two of the three commissions in different pairings. All three composers will be in residence over the weekend to share their insights into the complex, creative process that exists between composer and soloist.
According to Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Commissions Micro-Festival demonstrates the Orchestra's commitment and responsibility to champion new music, while also showcasing what he calls the ensemble's "genius" musicians. "They are among the most virtuosic and the best in their field," he adds, "and by partnering with 21st-century composers, they can develop a new language for their instruments."
Nu-Shu is commissioned by the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam.
Photo Credit: Peggy Abrams