January 21 2011
Fundacion Del Teatro Real
James Conlon, conductor
The three solfege pitches, LA - SI - DO, have always reminded me of the ABCs - that is, the meaning of things starting, beginning, and of the origins of everything. One day, I received a call from the Teatro Real Opera in Madrid, saying they were planning a surprise 70th birthday celebration for Placido Domingo. They asked me to write a piece, to which I instantly responded "Yes!" as he truly became one of my dear friends after we worked on my opera, The First Emperor
. I thought it celebratory to use part of his name in the composition, and when you rap "Placido," it sounds like LA - SI - DO.
So, I used the notes LA - SI - DO to form the musical theme of Symphonic Poem
. The beginning of the piece echoes the start of a new life, like a dream it unfolds with the sounds of birds, wind, and rain. The tubular chimes start ringing and LA - SI - DO appears for the first time. The theme then unfolds through a variety of textures and styles: symphonic rapping, instrumental and vocal hip-hop, and blowing sounds on stones. Throughout the course of Symphonic Poem
, the industrial break drums and car wheel sounds join in representing nature and life as it grows and progresses into societies and cities. The climax erupts with the rapping and shouting of PLA - CI - DO and descends through chanting and foot stamping. These three notes return back to nature, back to the origins of things.
- Tan Dun