The Chinese composer Ye Xiaogang 葉小鋼 has been awarded this year’s John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowships for his cantata Twilight of Tibet. The work was inspired by his many trips to Tibet since 1985. He talked about how intensely spiritual the Tibetan culture is and how it changes the way he sees the world in his statement of the piece. He also said that music can heal the deepest wounds, alleviate the worldly pains and restore confidence for the desperate. “It is one’s hardest thing to keep a conversation with life and voice his independent and responsible attitude.” It is the sincerest wish from a serious composer.
Twilight of Tibet is a large-scale work, requiring not only an orchestra, but a chorus and eight soloists. The world premier is now set in Beijing in October.
Ye Xiaogang belongs to the post-Cultural Revolution generation of composers. His peers (in many cases, his classmates at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music) includes Tan Dun, Chen Yi, Guo Wenjin and Chen Qigang, among others. Many of them went overseas to study after college. Ye came to New York– first to Eastman, then to NYU. But he went back after getting his degree, much earlier than most of his peers did. He is now the vice-chancellor of the CCOM. He is also a very prolific film scorer and have composed music for dozens of films.