Three Chinese Songs (2002)

Commissioned by The Curtis Institute of Music

Poems by Xu Zhimo

Duration: 10 minutes

Scoring: soprano, piano

Rachael Garcia, soprano
Zhou Tian, piano
29 January 2003, The Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, PA

Score Sample


I. “Wind”
Rachael Garcia, soprano; Zhou Tian piano

II. “Yellow Bird”
Rachael Garcia, soprano; Zhou Tian piano

III. “Ou Ran” (Transience)
Rachael Garcia, soprano; Zhou Tian piano

Program Note

Commissioned by the Curtis Institute of Music, Three Songs in Chinese touch on the ephemeral-- of wind, wisp of cloud and the color of a bird. Sung in Chinese, Wind is a wordless vocalise rising and falling, accompanied relentlessly by “bell-like” piano chords. Yellow Bird is a lively and raucous flash of color, while Ou Ran (Transcience ) is sung a capella in the first part of sorrow, with lightly flowing runs for the second part of recollection of past happiness.



“The highlight of this concert was 'Three Songs' by Zhou Tian. 'Wind,' a vocalise accompanied by chords is almost too staccato to be wind, but the singer’s vocal production becomes airy at the end. The color of joy is represented by the liveliness of the antic 'Yellow Bird' and is freely sung with relaxed passion and a light tone. The 'Transience' of a moment is presented simply, a Capella in the first section, and then with lightly flowing accompaniment. This set, sung in Chinese and accompanied by the composer, was the most relaxed and confident on the program, presented without being over-sung, with text and music most commensurate.”





(Song without words)


Yellow Bird

A spectrum of color springs into a tree,

"Look, a yellow bird!” someone exclaims.

Proudly raising its tail, silent,

Its foreign beauty illuminates the foliage -

As a ray of spring, a blaze, as passion.


Ou Ran (Transience)

I am a wisp of cloud in the sky,

By chance, casting a shadow upon your heart--

Don't be startled,

Even less so, hopeful—

For it will move on in an instant.


On this dark night, you and I met on the sea,

You with your, I with my own, direction;

While you may remember,

It's better to forget,

The luminous moment we shared!


Translated by Meng-Chieh Liu and Zhou Tian


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