Program Note

“The Palace of Nine Perfections” was inspired by a Chinese painting under the same name by Yuan Jiang, believed to date from 1691. Though I learned about the painting growing up in China, it was not until 2003 when I first saw the real work in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. I was immediately moved by its honesty and unusual vividness. Inspired, I wanted to create a musical reaction to Yuan’s vision, hoping we can see as well as hear The Palace of Nine Perfections. The work, consisting of three major parts, is a fusion of Chinese musical elements and contemporary orchestral writing. In “Palace,” I wanted to use the modern symphony orchestra to convey a sense of unfamiliar beauty and energy.

The score calls for piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, clarinet in E-flat, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (3 players: glockenspiel, crotale, chimes, triangle, suspended cymbal, woodblocks, large temple bowl, slapstick, snare drum, tamtam, bass drum), celesta, harp, and strings.

—Zhou Tian


“The Palace of Nine Perfections” won The Minnesota Orchestra Composers Institute (+Commissioning Award), The Symphony in C Composers Award, American Composers Orchestra Underwood Readings, and 2005 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composers Awards.

The Palace of Nine Perfections with illustrations, from ArtsCouncilNY


© Copyright Zhou Tian / Zhou Tian Music
All rights reserved

The Palace of Nine Perfections (2004)

Duration: 10 minutes

Scoring: 3(picc).3(corA).3(Eb.Cl).3(cbn)/
4331/timp/3 perc/cel/hp/str

Premiere: 29 March 2004, Field Concert Hall, Philadelphia, PA.
Curtis Symphony Orchestra
Benjamin Schwartz, conductor



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