The NZSO received the best possible early Christmas present this week – our first ever Grammy Award nomination!The Orchestra has been nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for Symphony ‘Humen 1839’, a recording of works by Pulitzer Prize-winning Chinese composer Zhou Long, with the title work written in collaboration with compatriot Chen Yi. Singaporean Darrell Ang conducts the recording, which was released on the Naxos label in May.
Other nominees vying for the top prize are the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Boston Symphony Orchestra and The Oregon Symphony.
“The works on the album are exciting and colourful and provide many opportunities for the orchestra to display its affinity with contemporary music from the Asia-Pacific region,” says Christopher Blake, NZSO Chief Executive.
This is one of many international collaborations and projects the NZSO has been involved in over the past few years. I’m proud that our players have been acknowledged for their artistic excellence on the world stage and we look forward to the announcement of the winner next year.Both Zhou Long and Chen Yi are part of a generation of Chinese composers who were educated musically under the Cultural Revolution, then went on to adapt Western compositional techniques when it ended. Symphony ‘Humen 1839’ was written to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the Humen Opium Burning, in which Chinese hero Lin Zexu along with other citizens of Humen set fire to more than 1000 tonnes of the illegal British opium trade, sparking the First Opium War between the British and Chinese Empires.
Also on the CD is Zhou’s The Rhyme of Taigu, which explores the history of Japanese taiko drumming, and The Enlightened, an expression of contemporary world struggles that reflects the composer’s belief that through music we can reflect upon our relationships with all people, the planet and the universe.
“This was a complex recording to make. It features a wide variety of drums and percussion as well as technically demanding contemporary music,” says Blake. “It is testament to the musicians’ immense skill and that of the conductor that they are able to produce a world-class and potentially award-winning recording.”The Grammy Awards ceremony will be held in Los Angeles on 15 February (US time).
Enjoy a sample from the album.