Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A "bright light" from China


Chinese composer Bright Sheng was born in Shanghai on this date in 1955. Sheng emigrated to the U.S. in 1982, and his mentors include Leonard Bernstein. In case you're wondering, as was I, how he acquired the name "Bright," he explains it thus: "My name in Chinese is Sheng Zong-Liang, with the family name first. My first name means something like 'bright lights.' I once read a book that referred to an Englishman named Mr. Bright, so I thought it might be good to be known as Bright Sheng where people speak English. I did not know the connotation of smartness at the time."
Along with Tan Dun, Sheng is one of the most important Chinese composers writing pieces for international audiences. In Never Far Away: Music of Bright Sheng, one of our CD selections, he collaborates with renowned harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. (She was also featured on one of NPR's online "Tiny Desk Concerts," which I mentioned yesterday.)

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