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Bright Sheng

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Never Far Away (2008)
Publisher
G Schirmer Inc
Category
Soloist(s) and Orchestra
Year Composed
2008
Duration
24 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Harp
Programme Note
Bright Sheng Never Far Away (2008)
Premiere:
24 October 2008
Yolanda Kondonassis, harp
Jahja Ling, conductor
San Diego Symphony
San Diego, CA

1. Moonlight Shadows
2. The Drunken Fisher
3. Doctored Pentatonics


Composer Note:
Never Far Away was co-commissioned by the San Diego Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Grand Rapids Symphony and the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. It was written for and dedicated to harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. The premiere performance took place on October 24th, 2008 by the San Diego Symphony, conducted by Jahja Ling. Subsequent performances will be on January 22nd 2009, by the Dallas Symphony conducted by Leonard Slatkin, and April 3rd 2009 with the Grand Rapids Symphony, conducted by Bright Sheng.

In linguistics, pidgins and creoles refer to languages developed out of necessity by people who do not share a common tongue in a specific geographic area, a kind of ‘contact language’. At this initial state, the communication (called ‘pidgin’) can be quite simple, only to fulfill the needed verbal interaction. Yet once the language is used long enough, especially when children learn it as their first language, it can develop into an affluent language with a far more complex structure and richer vocabulary—the emergence of a creole.

Sometimes I feel it might be appropriate to apply this linguistic phenomenon to my compositional approach—an evolving musical style, fused from several different ones, expressive enough for me to comfortably and effectively communicate my musical thoughts with the listener, while each musical creole is personal, depending on the sources from which it was drawn.

Moonlight Shadows is inspired by a Chinese folk song on a young girl’s longing, under the moonlight, for her far-away lover.

The Drunken Fisher is inspired by a Chinese classical instrumental work, of the same title, written for qin, a seven-string zither, portraying a tipsy fishman’s sentiments returning home at the sunset while rowing a fishing boat.

A three-note pentatonic motif is used in different ways throughout the third movement, therefore the title—Doctored Pentatonics.

Never Far Away is a reference to an old saying:
If your native culture is still the inspiration of your work, you are never far away from your motherland.

—Bright Sheng



  • Ensemble
    San Diego Symphony Orchestra
    Soloist(s)
    Yolanda Kondonassis
    Conductor
    Jahja Lang
    Telarc:
Performances
Date
Title
  • 17 APR 2013
    Baltimore, MD
    Peabody Conservatory
    Dan Yu; Edward Polochick, conductor
  • 02 JUN 2012
    Ottawa, ONT, Canada
    The Strings of St. John's
    Yolanda Kondonassis, harp; Gordon Johnston, conductor

    Other Dates:
    3,30 June - Ottawa, ONT, Canada
  • 29 SEP 2011
    Never Far Away Country Premiere
    Hong Kong
    Hong Kong Philharmonic

    Other Dates:
    1 October - Hong Kong
  • 02 OCT 2009
    Oberlin, OH
    Oberlin College
    Yolanda Kondonassis; Bridget-Michaele Reischl, conductor
  • 03 APR 2009
    Grand Rapids, MI
    Grand Rapids Symphony
    Yolanda Kondonassis; Bright Sheng, conductor

    Other Dates:
    4 April - Grand Rapids, MI
  • 22 JAN 2009
    Dallas, TX
    Dallas Symphony
    Leonard Slatkin, conductor

    Other Dates:
    23 January - Dallas, TX
  • 22 JAN 2009
    Dallas, TX
    Dallas Symphony

    Other Dates:
    23,24 January - Dallas, TX
  • 24 OCT 2008
    Never Far Away World Premiere
    San Diego, CA
    San Diego Symphony
    Yolanda Kondonassis, harp; Jahja Lang, conductor

    Other Dates:
    25,26 October - San Diego, CA

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