Chinese singer Gong Linna brings musical styles together | Updated: 2017-07-15 00:42

A musical collaboration that will play Lincoln Center this weekend was inspired over some dinner in Beijing a few years ago.

"We had a great time eating spicy hot pot together four years ago in Beijing," renowned Chinese singer Gong Linna said about her international collaboration with the Bang on a Can All-Stars.

"We talked about music and everything," Gong told China Daily after a rehearsal on Wednesday in downtown Manhattan. "Our collaboration was built on mutual respect that everyone can speak their mind."

Gong and the Bang on a Can All-Stars will perform at the Cloud River Mountain concert this weekend as part of the Lincoln Center Festival 2017 in New York, in a musical project that aims to break barriers that separate music communities.

Formed in 1992, the Bang on a Can All-Stars are "recognized worldwide for their ultra-dynamic live performances and recordings of today's most innovative music," the group's website says. "Freely crossing the boundaries between classical, jazz, rock, world and experimental music, this six-member amplified ensemble has consistently forged a distinct category-defying identity, taking music into uncharted territories."

Cloud River Mountain is inspired by the tales, myths, and poems of gods, spirits, and the world of the shamans, primarily drawn from Qu Yuan, the famous Chinese poet and minister who lived during the Warring States period and whose poems were first published during the Han Dynasty in Chu Ci Anthology, also known as Songs of the South.

In June 2015, Gong was part of an annual marathon concert initiated by the All-Stars in New York, and her performance won rave reviews.

"This collaboration is a joy for us. The excitement is always present because she (Gong) is always present," Bang on a Can All-Stars guitarist Mark Stewart said on Wednesday.

Gong is a classically trained Chinese singer from Guizhou province, passionate about creating new "Chinese art music" but who is also a very recognizable pop star in China.

"It's important to show the audience what is Chinese modern music, new music, not always classic music," Gong said.

Songs to be performed that also will be part of Gong's upcoming album were co-written by the artistic directors of the All-Stars and Gong's husband, German composer Robert Zollitsch, or "Lao Luo".

Weaving together ancient Chinese storytelling and Western songwriting, Cloud River Mountain honors the sounds of both China and the West, fusing texts sung in both Mandarin and English, with a wide range of contemporary musical languages.

"With music you can make these bridges across the globe and suddenly be having a conversation," said Julia Wolfe, who is one of the composers of Cloud River Mountain. She is also the co-artistic director of the All-Stars and won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

"We create together, and our language is music. It's really something amazing for all of us," Wolfe said.

China Daily

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