Explore the Festival
Full Calendar ›
Browse Artists ›
Focus on
Ancient Paths ›
Modern Voices ›
Ways to Buy
Save 15% or More on
Festival Tickets
Buy a Three-Concert
Package and Save
Blog Archive
About the Author
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

Named for Solfege

In the spirit of Arthur Rubinstein, who once called Leonard Bernstein “the greatest pianist among conductors, the greatest conductor among composers, the greatest composer among pianists,” we offer Liu Sola: the greatest composer among singers, the greatest singer among novelists, the greatest novelist (thus far, anyway) among composers. Still composing, Sola (as she’s universally known) is now better known for her 1985 debut novel You Have No Choice—a candid look at young music composition students—which helped put the entire Class of 1978 on the map in China as intellectual celebrities.

Sola’s acute multitasking as composer, author, and rather uncategorizable performance artist have made her famous well beyond her catalogue of works.

Get Adobe Flash player
Excerpt from Liu Sola Discourse on the Zither

Her restless imagination has made her reluctant to rest on her laurels (see a feature segment from CCTV 9’s Culture Express). Ask her which piece best defines her compositional voice and she responds (with the barest hint of irony), “the next one.”

Although Sola’s music is featured on only one program in Ancient Paths, Modern Voices, the website features an episode from her debut novel. This excerpt, from an unpublished translation by Nicolas Groffman, appears here for the first time in English.

Posted by Ken Smith

© 2001-2009 Carnegie Hall Corporation

Chinese Translation (Traditional Characters)
Chinese Translation (Simplified Characters)