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Available Recording

Red Silk Dance



Bright Sheng with Peng Chen, Jody and Gerard Schwarz after a rehearsal of Red Silk Dance, played by Bright Sheng and conducted by Gerard Schwarz with Seatle Symphony Orchestra.

Red Silk Dance (1999)

Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra

Performance Note

The Pipa needs to be amplified with a single speaker placed near the soloist. The house system should not be used.

Program Note

Red Silk Dance for piano and orchestra was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for Emanuel Ax, pianist. First performance: January 6th, 2000 with Robert Spano conducting the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Emanuel Ax as the soloist, at Symphony Hall in Boston. The orchestra calls for two flutes (both double the piccolo), two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, two trumpets, three trombones, timpani, percussions (large bass drum, triangle, wind gong, 4 bongos, 2 congas, small suspended cymbal, large tam-tam [60”], slapsticks, large tambourine, ruthe, large temple block, xylophone, chimes, ratchet, glockenspiel) and strings. It is dedicated to Emanuel Ax.

This work was inspired and influenced by the music from the Silk Road culture.

For thousands of years the caravans of the Silk Road had made voyages through the ancient trading route linking the two greatest civilizations of the time between China and Rome. More importantly, the Silk Road had opened up an enormous cultural and religious exchange among the countries between Asia and Europe.

It was not an accident that the Silk Road began in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AC) and reached its zenith during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AC), the two longest and most highly artistic and prosperous dynasties in Chinese history. Unlike the history of European cultures, early Chinese civilization largely developed independently from the rest of the world. Thus throughout history, many rulers believed the importance for China to stay away from “foreign influences”. The emperors from the Han and Tang dynasties were notable exceptions. They were confident enough to allow other cultures to infiltrate into their own. Chang’an (now Xi’an, a northwestern city in China where the Terra Cotta Soldiers were unearthed), the capital of both dynasties, was the departure point and final destination of the Silk Road. By 742, the size of the city was five by six miles with a population of two million, including over 5,000 foreigners. Numerous religions and cultures were represented and the city contained the temples, churches and synagogues of Nestorians, Manicheans, Zorastrians, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and Christians, among others. Foreigners from Turkey, Iran, Arabia, Sogdia, Mongolia, Armenia, India, Korea, Malaya and Japan regularly lived in Chang’an.

As a result, Chinese culture was greatly enriched. In music, for example, of the ten genres of Chinese music the Tang court cataloged, only two were genuine Chinese (one traditional and one contemporary). The rest of them were all from other cultures: Persian, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, and Tibetan, to name just a few. And influences from other cultures are still evident in Chinese music today, especially in the folk and operatic music of the northwestern provinces where the Silk Road culture had been rich. Distinct from the rest of China, the music there is not pentatonic and its unique melodic configurations can be traced back to the music of Tibet, Mongolia, Central Asia and Iran.

红绸舞(钢琴与乐队)由波士顿交响乐团为E 艾克斯委約,2000年1月6日由艾克斯与波士顿交响乐团在波士顿交响厅首演,由R 斯班诺指挥。乐队编制为两支长笛(兼短笛),两支双簧管,两支单簧管,两支大管,四支圆号,两支小号,三支长号,定音鼓,打击乐(大鼓,三角铁,风锣,四支邦格鼓,两支康嘎鼓,小吊钗,低音大锣【60英寸】,拍板,大铃鼓,ruthe,低音木鱼,木琴,管钟琴,嘎响器,钢片琴)及弦乐队。此曲献给E 艾克斯。

这部作品受丝路文化影响。千百年来丝路的驼队行走于古代两个最繁荣的文明,中华文明与古罗马文明。更有甚者,丝路打开了沿途各个文化与宗教的交流。

汉代(前206年至后220年)和唐代(公元618-907年)为中国古代史上最长久、艺术上最繁华的朝代绝不出于偶然。不同于欧洲文化,华夏文化基本上是独自发展的,因此自古以来许多统治者认为华夏文化应杜绝外来干涉。汉代和唐代的皇帝乃是例外。他们对外来文化的侵入有自信。古长安是汉、唐两朝的首都,亦是来去丝路的起点和终点。至公元742年长安已有近二十里方圆,二百万人口之多的大城市,包括五千多的外国人。当时许多不同宗教都在长安设有教堂和庙宇。外国人亦长期定居长安。

华夏文化也因此蒼盛。音乐上,唐代的十部曲仅有两部是汉曲(传统曲和现代曲),其余八部均是‘外来乐’。这些音乐文化对中国的影响至今犹存,特别显示在当年丝路文化繁荣的中国西北部的民歌与戏剧音乐中。



—Bright Sheng