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Ken Smith currently divides his time between New York (where he writes for Gramophone magazine) and Hong Kong (where he serves as the Asian–performing arts critic for the Financial Times). He is Co–Music Director of the recordings Dong Folk Songs and Miao Music for China's MediaFusion Group, and he won an ASCAP–Deems Taylor Award in 2008 for his liner notes to Gil Shaham's recording of The Butterfly Lovers Concerto for Violin. Ken is also the author of Fate! Luck! Chance!, published in 2008 by Chronicle Books.

Ancient Paths, Modern Voices Blog

10/25 Neighborhood Concert: Ensemble ACJW @ Flushing Town Hall

Tonight, at 7:30 PM in Weill Recital Hall, Ensemble ACJW will reprise Sunday’s Neighborhood Concert, which took place at Flushing Town Hall in Queens. I can assure you that although this music was fascinating to get to know from recordings and Academy Fellows’ anecdotes, it has a much greater impact when heard live from the concert stage. I had mentioned in my previous blog posting that I was looking forward to hearing Bright Sheng’s Third String Quartet live, and I got that opportunity twice yesterday—once at the dress rehearsal and again during the concert! The group shone in a vigorous rendition of this work—accentuating the violent drive that makes up the majority of the piece, while reserving a poignant sensitivity for the closing elegy.

I had never heard Guo Wenjing’s Parade for Six Peking Opera Gongs, until yesterday. I had no idea these instruments were so versatile in the variety of sound they could produce, but was quickly schooled by the percussion trio’s skilled performance. It was very clever programming on the part of the artistic committee to juxtapose this piece with Bright Sheng’s work—each piece played on the subtle (or, not so subtle) differences in timbre, technique, and register possible from instruments belonging to the same family.

Since my little brother happened to be in town this weekend, and had a plane to catch to Chicago, I had to cut out early and was unable to listen to the live rendition of Zhou Long’s Taigu Rhyme. However, from the feedback through the grapevine, I got the impression that this piece makes an excellent closer to the concert, and I can’t wait to hear it live, tonight!

I refuse to play the part of the narcissistic pianist and comment on the performances I played in myself (Chen Qigang’s Instants d’un Opéra de Pékin for Solo Piano and Chen Yi’s Qi for Flute, Cello, Percussion, and Piano), but I do have to say that it was a joy to work on and perform this music with such daring and dynamic players. I hope to see you tonight!

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Excerpt from Zhou Long's Taigu Rhyme
Beijing New Music Ensemble

Posted by Gregory DeTurck, an award-winning pianist and current Fellow of The Academy—a Program of Carnegie Hall, The Juilliard School, and The Weill Music Institute, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.

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