Shenzhen Government Online
Violinist to present Tan Dun's new concerto| Jan. 11
From: Shenzhen Daily
Updated: 2018-12-18 15:12

Norwegian violinist Eldbjorg Hemsing, the muse of Tan Dun’s new violin concerto “Fire Ritual,” will collaborate with Shenzhen Symphony Orchestra next month to present this piece under the baton of Tan himself.

Eldbjorg Hemsing (L) debuts Tan Dun’s “Fire Ritual” with Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Tan Dun (R) in Oslo in September. Courtesy of Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra

Hemsing premiered Tan’s violin concerto “Love” back in 2010 as part of the opening of the Norwegian Pavilion at Shanghai Expo, together with Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. That event has led to a close collaboration between Tan and Hemsing.

It’s a curiosity that goes beyond the classical music tradition that has brought the two together and made them so compatible, according to Hemsing.

Eldbjorg Hemsing

“Beyond borders and differences in culture, we both draw from our backgrounds — the rich Chinese and Norwegian traditions of folk music,” Hemsing told the Shenzhen Daily. “That gives us a lot of flexibility as a classically trained musician and helped form a strong bond between us.”

Hemsing said she has always found Tan’s work exciting for his ability to keep his Chinese cultural heritage, combine it with his education in the West, then find his own voice, bringing an incredibly unique soundscape.

“You can hear his curiosity to always explore and bring something fresh and innovative to both the music field and the audiences. I feel like you can hear it in all of his compositions, having in mind the need to be relevant or ‘fresh’ and ‘today.’”

For the Shenzhen concert, Hemsing will perform “Fire Ritual — A Music Ritual for the Victims of War,” which she said really sank into her heart.

The piece is composed to commemorate the victims of war. The solo violin part, taking the role of a shaman, calls upon the world of the living as well as the diceased world. During the performance, one part of the orchestra will be on stage, and another positioned in the auditorium.

“The whole piece is in D, which is an interesting challenge, as the tone is uniting the whole piece ... The violin has many incredibly beautiful moments and the main theme is touching. On the other hand this piece is very virtuostic for both the violin and orchestra, with so many stunning cadenzas for solo violin with a lot of power,” Hemsing explained.

Then, as always, there is a strong “melting music pot” effect in the piece, with elements such as birds’ chirping symbolizing the journey to heaven, and heavy percussion portraying the intensity of the human heartbeat.

Next month, Hemsing will also release a new album on the Chinese mainland exclusively of Tan’s works. The album will be released in other countries and regions in February.

That album will take in “Fire Ritual” as well as two of Tan’s earlier works — “Rock the Violin in Rhapsody” that captures the impulses of New York streets and “A Dream out of Beijing Opera” inspired by his childhood memories and music influences from Beijing Opera.

Looking up to David Oistrakh as her hero, Hemsing admires Oistrakh’s virtuoso when at the same time he could still keep the very lyrical side on his instrument.

“Not to mention the fact that he was an absolute creative force, who could not easily be stopped in his artistic vision, interpretation of the pieces and techniques used for performances,” she added.

Hemsing has been a household name in her native country since childhood and made her solo debut with Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra at 11. After winning various international competitions and prizes, she traveled to Vienna for further studies with Boris Kuschnir. She has premiered five new compositions by Tan Dun and worked on projects with him in both Asia and Europe.

Hemsing plays a 1754 G.B. Guadagnini violin on loan from the Dextra Musica Foundation.

Time: 8 p.m., Jan. 11, 2019

Venue: Shenzhen Concert Hall

Add: 2002 Fuzhong Road 1, Futian District (福田区福中一路2002号)

Metro: Line 3 or 4 to Children’s Palace Station (少年宫站), Exit A