Composers Datebook®

with host John Birge

Sunday, February 3

Chen Yi's "Spring Festival"

Synopsis

Chinese New Year, or “Spring Festival,” is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays and its observance traditionally begins on the first day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

“Spring Festival” is also the title Chinese composer Chen Yi gave to a work for wind band that she wrote in 1999 on commission from American Composers Forum and published as part of their “BandQuest” new music series for young performers.

The principle melody in Chen’s “Spring Festival” draws on a southern Chinese folk tune called “Lion Playing Ball,” but its formal structure is mathematical in nature and based on the ancient Greek idea of the “Golden Ratio” or “Golden Section,” a concept often symbolized by the Greek letter phi and traditionally thought to represent an aesthetically pleasing proportion.

Speaking of schooling, composer Chen Yi received her Master’s degree in music composition from the Central Conservatory in Beijing, and her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Columbia University in New York City. She now teaches at the Conservatory of the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

It was in Kansas City that Chen developed her “Spring Festival” piece during workshops with the young musicians of the Smith-Hale Junior High School Band, and the finished score received its premiere performance on today’s date in the year 2000 by that band under the direction of Jan Davis.

Music Played in Today's Program

Chen Yi (b. 1953) Spring Festival University of Minnesota Symphonic Wind Ensemble; Craig Kirchhoff, cond. Hal Leonard (full score, parts and CD)HL-04001978

Additional Information

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