Poster Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang
Both pianists are professors at Michigan State University.
Michigan State University
New Classical Tracks®

Pianists Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang bring many cultures together

New Classical Tracks - Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang (Extended)
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Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang — Connecting Cultures (BGR)

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New Classical Tracks - Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang
New Classical Tracks - April 19, 2023

“When you're playing two pianos or when you're playing piano for four hands, you do not only have to listen, but you have an attack that happens,” pianist Deborah Moriarty says about herself and colleague Zhihua Tang’s recently released first album, Connecting Cultures. “You have to anticipate what the other person will do. You have to be in their head, heart and soul and know where they will go. That allowed me to work with Zhihua and get to know her.”

The album presents four-hand piano music from around the world.

What is it like to work with a former student who is now a colleague?

Moriarty:There's nothing more exciting than having a student become a colleague. I can't even describe it. To go from being the mentor and being the person who is giving them ideas to having an exchange of ideas. The roles shift. One of the great things about working with Zhihua is that we work as equals. We have fun. We have a good time.” 

How did you decide which cultures you would represent on this recording?

Tang: “We included music from all corners of the world. We try to pick pieces that are diverse in style but at the same time, they do share some commonalities. All the composers draw from their roots and express simple beauty in life.”

Moriarty: “If you want to connect cultures, you have to do it in a way that will cause people to listen. When we chose the repertoire, we wanted works we thought people would listen to. Then they could move further into appreciating that particular culture.”

Why did you choose Antonín Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances? 

Moriarty: “Those are dances we've played quite a lot and enjoy. We wanted to choose two contrasting dances. The first one is the triumphant opening of the album, and the second one is one that we love to play.”

Can you talk about the two Chinese composers on the recording?

Tang: “Those two pieces are by two wonderful Chinese composers from two different generations, Wang Jianzhong and Gong Huahua. Jianzhong’s piece, Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon, is more of a traditional folk song from the Guangdong province in Southern China, and it's joyful, peaceful and relaxed.”

Moriarty: “Let me say also, as somebody who is not Chinese, I think that one of the great things about going to China and having a lot of students from there has been my exposure to this incredible music. Colorful Clouds Chasing the Moon is like colorful tripods chasing the moon. Every time we play, I think people are just amazed at the beauty of it.”

Resources

Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang — Connecting Cultures (BGR Store)

Deborah Moriarty and Zhihua Tang — Connecting Cultures (Presto music)

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