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Tan Dun

On 21 December 2018, Bard College announced the appointment of Tan Dun as Dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music. As dean, Tan Dun will guide the Conservatory in fulfilling its mission of teaching young musicians both new music and music history, while deepening an understanding of its connection to history, art and culture, and society. He will also help to build synergy between Eastern and Western studies at the Conservatory, including at its recently founded US-China Music Institute.

This appointment is a continuation of Tan Dun's long-lasting relationship with Bard College and The Orchestra Now. 'The language of music is universal and connect all kinds of people from diverse cultures, languages, and with different dreams. I look forward to working with the students of Bard's Conservatory of Music in imagining and re-imagining their careers as artists and helping them become even more connected to our growing world and widening musical soundscape.'

Tan Dun will begin his tenure as Dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music on 1 July 2019.

Bard College is a private liberal arts college established in 1860 and based in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA. Bard's Conservatory of Music was founded in 2005. Its undergraduate programme is unique in that all students take a five-year course leading to two degrees - a bachelor of music and a bachelor of arts in a different field. It also offers graduate programmes in vocal arts, choral conducting and orchestral conducting, a post-graduate collaborative piano fellowship and an advanced performance studies programme. Resident at Bard College is The Orchestra Now, an international group of young musicians making orchestral music relevant to today's audiences. Tan Dun conducted The Orchestra Now most recently on 11 November 2018.

Chinese composer and conductor Tan Dun was born on 18 August 1957 in Changsha, Hunan. Discouraged from pursuing music, he worked as a rice planter on the Huangjin commune, but joined an ensemble of commune residents and learned to play traditional Chinese string instruments. When several members of a Peking opera troupe died in a ferry accident, Tan Dun was called to help as a viola player and arranger. This earned him a seat in the orchestra, and he then, from 1977, studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where he met various composers including George Crumb, Alexander Goehr, Hans Werner Henze, Toru Takemitsu, Chou Wen-Chung and Isang Yun, who all influenced his development as a composer. By 1986 he was in New York City, researching for a doctorate at Columbia University.

Known most widely for his film scores, including Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero, his music often makes use of audiovisual elements, uses instruments constructed from organic materials such as paper, water and stone, and is inspired by traditional Chinese theatrical and ritual performances. He became a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 2013.


Posted: 29 December 2018

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