Bright Sheng: Three Chinese Love Songs

Written by Amy Owens


In category: Song of the Day

Published February 18, 2019

I’m honored to be sharing songs with you this week, the week of the “Hyphenated Americans” concert at Merkin Hall! I have loved exploring the music of two of the composers featured on Wednesday’s program: Bright Sheng and Daniel Sabzghabaei. This is a chance to hear many different styles of music influenced from the hybrid experiences of the composers. I’m particularly struck by how the language affects the style and even my vocal approach to this music. Chinese and Farsi couldn’t be further from typical “American English” or from each other, and I get the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sing in both of these languages back-to-back.  On the program you will hear “Three Chinese Love Songs” by Bright Sheng, which are arrangements of folk melodies for soprano, piano, and viola. It has been very satisfying to hear Cindy Wu work her magic on a very difficult viola part with lots of harmonics! When I asked her for something to listen to in order to get a better sense of how the language is sung and what the style of Chinese folk song is, she sent me this video, a setting of the first song in the set. Listen to the brightness of the language and the incredibly expressive sliding in the vocal line. I probably don’t have to tell you that this version is produced quite differently than what you’ll hear this Wednesday, but it’s a lot of fun—enjoy!

author: Amy Owens

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Amy Owens enjoys a diverse career in concert work, opera, and new music. She has appeared in concert in venues ranging from Wolf Trap to Carnegie Hall with renowned orchestras across the United States, including the National Symphony Orchestra, Utah Symphony, Reno Philharmonic, Omaha Symphony, Virginia Symphony, and Buffalo Philharmonic. Her operatic engagements have taken her to Santa Fe Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Dallas Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, On Site Opera, and others. Her debut album of original music, HAETHOR, was released Spring 2018 to acclaim in the electronica world. This past year, she was selected to participate in the Hart Institute for Women Conductors at Dallas Opera. She has received awards from the Sullivan Foundation, the George London Foundation, and the Metropolitan Opera National Council.


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