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Monkey King symphony to debut in Shanghai

By ZHANG KUN | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2022-10-07 11:56

Liu Sola, the composer of  The Legend of Monkey King.[Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The Legend of Monkey King, a new symphony piece by Liu Sola, will premiere at Shanghai Symphony Hall on Oct 6.

Dedicated to the centenary of Chinese animation, the composition was jointly commissioned by Beijing Music Festival Arts Foundation and Shanghai Symphony Orchestra.

The Legend of Monkey King consists of nine symphonic dances inspired by the 1961 cartoon movie Monkey King: Havoc in Heaven. According to Liu the composer, the music follows the story and movements of the film, "like in the silent-era movie theatre, a live orchestra playing alongside the movie screen."

"I loved the movie very much as a child, and I am grateful to be commissioned to compose this piece," she told the media via telephone, a week before the premiere.

Liu was seriously ill and bedridden for years. The composition of Monkey King took eight months, a period that witnessed significant improvement in her health. "I was surprised at the joyful music I created, and I hope audiences can dance with it."

One of the most beloved figures in traditional Chinese literature, the Monkey King needed to be portrayed with the distinctive rhythm of Chinese music, Liu believed. "We have rich colours, unique techniques and expressions with Chinese percussion instruments, and they are played by an ensemble of several drummers working in tandem instead of one person like in a modern Western band."

Little about the heritage of traditional Chinese percussion music is known to today's public, she said. In her new composition, she used the drums and their colourful rhythms to portray the playful and mischievous Monkey King.

Liu is 67, and is known internationally as a writer, composer, vocalist and social activist. A graduate from the composition department of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, she is classmate to some of China's most renowned composers today: Ye Xiaogang, Tan Dun and Chen Qigang.

The Legend of Monkey King, a new symphony piece by Liu Sola, will be premiered at Shanghai Symphony Hall on Oct 6. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
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