Composer lauds classical music in era of pop songs

Updated: 2014-04-23 11:18

By Amy He in New York (China Daily USA)

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Christopher Tin got his start in music when he was young and learned to play an array of instruments, ranging from the piano to the trumpet to the guitar. But it wasn't until he wrote a musical in high school that he got a glimpse of what it felt like to be on the other side of music, composing.

"I really got a taste of what the whole creative process was like, to conceive something like that and I really enjoyed it," Tin told China Daily. "At that point, I thought, 'You know what, this is what I want to do. I think I'm best at this and I enjoy it the most, so let's do it.'"

That instinct has served the 37-year-old well. Tin won two Grammy awards for his last album Calling All Dawns, which named Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalists at 2011's Grammy awards.

Composer lauds classical music in era of pop songs 

Chinese-American Christopher Tin recently premiered his latest work The Drop That Contained the Sea at Carnegie Hall in New York. Provided to China Daily

"It was a very surreal experience, and it really didn't sink in until the following year when I was sitting at the awards again, just as a spectator, watching all these people I know not win. I can't believe I made it through," he said.

Tin was recently in New York performing a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall for the world premiere of The Drop That Contained the Sea, his next album which will be available on May 8. The album, which took almost two years to put together, centers on a theme of water and the way it flows through the world. The collection of 10 songs in 10 different languages follows the flow of water, taking listeners from cloud to sea.

"I just finished my first song cycle maybe five years ago. That one - Calling All Dawns - was about the cycle of the sun, rising and setting, and rising again. I was thinking about other natural cyclical phenomenon and the water cycle sort of popped up to my mind," Tin said about the inspiration for his latest work.

The pieces began as commissioned work for different orchestras and choirs, but Tin said he had an idea throughout the process that he would eventually stitch the pieces together into one album about water. Because each of the pieces was sung in a different language, Tin traveled extensively to perform and record with different orchestras around the world, which included going to Turkey, Bulgaria and South Africa.

Composer lauds classical music in era of pop songs

Tin premiered one of the movements at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, where he performed with youth music students - in 300-membered choir and 100 in the orchestra - as a featured artist of the annual International School of Choral Music Society Festival.

People can listen to classical music over and over again because there's a lot of depth to it, he said, but it doesn't have the upfront impact that a three-minute pop song would have and gets crowded out by other genres that thrive on that.

(China Daily USA 04/23/2014 page2)