Sheng Zongliang

Sheng Zongliang
(a.k.a.Bright Sheng)
b. 1955, Shanghai
Bright Sheng, one of the most prominent composers of the post-Cultural Revolution generation, left China in 1982. He defines himself as an American-Chinese composer, and his music combines culture and music from the East and West. He was appointed a MacArthur Fellow in 2002. Sheng started piano study at the age of four. During the Cultural Revolution he worked as a pianist and percussionist in a folk music and dance troupe in Qinghai province for seven years, near the Tibetan border, where he also studied and collected folk music. In 1978, when universities reopened, he was one of the first students accepted by the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. Leaving China for New York City in 1982, Sheng studied at Queens College and Columbia University, where he graduated with a DMA in 1993. Among his mentors and teachers were Leonard Bernstein, George Perle and Chou Wen-chung. Bela Bartok—ethnomusi-cologist, composer and teacher—also inspired Sheng.
The orchestral piece H’un (Lacerations): In Memoriam 1966–76 (1988) launched Sheng’s career in the United States and worldwide. A work created for the Lyric Opera of Chicago when Sheng served as composer-in-residence was The Story of Majnun (1992). The Silver River (1997, revised in 2000) was a multicultural music theatre collaboration. Sheng’s first full-length opera, Madame Mao (2003), was commissioned by the Santa Fe Opera. Since 1995 Sheng has held a composition professorship at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He also conducts.

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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