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Storyteller in song

By Chen Nan | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-24 07:13

Chinese folk singer Gong Linna. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Cloud River Mountain, a collaborative work by four Western composers, is based on Chinese myths and legends and features the expressive voice of Chinese folk singer Gong Linna. Chen Nan reports.

One day in 2011, while on a tour of China with four other international composers, the American composer Michael Gordon walked into a small music store filled with televisions, all playing different music videos. One in particular caught his attention. It was Gong Linna, a Chinese folk singer known for her expressive voice.

"I had never seen or heard anything like Gong Linna and I was deeply impressed by her performance artistry," recalls Gordon, who, through hand signals, asked the store owner to write down the name of the artist.

A few days later, Gordon attended a symposium on contemporary Chinese music, and one of the speakers was the German composer Robert Zollitsch, Gong's husband.

Gordon and Zollitsch kept in touch and decided to explore the possibilities of cooperation.

Along with fellow composers, Julia Wolfe-his wife-and David Lang, Gordon is the co-founder of Bang on a Can, a New York-based musical organization, which is known for projects such as the annual music festival, Bang on a Can Marathon, and the ensemble Bang on a Can All-Stars.

Gordon and Zollitsch collaborated on a 30-minute set of songs that premiered at the 2015 Bang on a Can Marathon.

This was later expanded into a 70-minute concert, titled Cloud River Mountain, which was performed at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College on July 14 and 15 this year, as part of the annual Lincoln Center Festival, which has been held since 1966.

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