Chen Qigang

Chen Qigang
b. 1951, Shanghai
Chen Qigang, a composer of the Chinese ‘New Wave’ (see Third Generation (composers)), now lives and works in Paris. He graduated from the affiliate middle school of the Central Conservatory of Music in 1973 as a clarinet student. In 1978, he enrolled in the first composition class at the reopening of the Central Conservatory in the post-Cultural Revolution era, along with fellow students Tan Dun, Qu Xiaosong, Chen Yi and Zhou Long (see music conservatories).
In 1984, Chen Qigang received a grant from the French government to study in Paris, where Olivier Messiaen accepted him as his last and only student. At the Paris Conservatory, Chen’s teachers included Ivo Malec, Claude Ballif and Betsy Jolas.
Apart from orchestral and chamber works, Chen also experimented with electronic music, working at IRCAM and in 1993 producing Dream of a Recluse (Rêve d’un solitaire) for instrumentalists and electronics. In 2001, he composed the ballet music for Raise the Red Lantern, a collaboration with film director Zhang Yimou, based loosely on the novella by Su Tong that first inspired Zhang to make the feature film. Chen’s music mixes East and West effectively, with sensitive instrumental timbres reminiscent of French impressionists. However, he is definitely a representative of the Chinese ‘New Wave’. His musical language incorporates a transnational range, from traditional Jingju (Peking opera) to pointillitic avantgarde idioms, including works that refer specifically to Chinese culture, such as Wu Xing (Les 5 elements).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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