Bard College Appoints World–Renowned Composer and Conductor Tan Dun as Dean of the Conservatory of Music
“We are delighted that Tan Dun, a conductor, composer, and artist whose work bridges cultures and genres and embraces a wide definition of music, will lead Bard’s Conservatory of Music,” said Bard College President Leon Botstein.
“The language of music is universal and can 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 reimagining their careers as artists and helping them become even more connected to our growing world and widening musical soundscape,” said Tan Dun.
Tan Dun will begin his tenure as Dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music on July 1, 2019.
About Tan Dun
Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. Now living in New York City, Tan Dun was born and raised in a rural Hunan village in the People’s Republic of China where millennia-old shamanistic cultural traditions still survived before Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution took hold. Following the end of the Cultural Revolution, China re-opened its Central Conservatory and Tan Dun was one of only 30 selected to attend among thousands of applicants. By the time he arrived in the United States in 1986 to pursue his Doctorate at Columbia University in Musical Arts, where he soon immersed himself in the music of John Cage and the New York downtown avant-garde scene, Tan Dun was already famous in China. In these past two decades, Tan Dun has transcended stylistic and cultural boundaries to become one of the world’s most famous and sought-after composers. He has created several new artistic formats, which—like opera—encompass sound, sight, narrative, and ritual. In addition to his contributions to the repertoire of opera and motion pictures scores, Tan’s new formats include: orchestral theatre, which re-contextualizes the orchestra and the concert-going experience; organic music, which explores new realms of sound through primal elements such as water, paper, and stone; and multimedia extravaganzas, which incorporate a variety of cutting-edge technologies.
An UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador and winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award, Bach Prize, Shostakovich Award, and most recently Italy’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement, Tan Dun makes music that is played throughout the world by leading orchestras in opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television. This past year, Tan Dun conducted the grand opening celebration of Disneyland Shanghai, which was broadcast to a record-breaking audience worldwide.
As a conductor of innovative programs around the world, Tan Dun has led the China tours of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra. His current season includes leading the Orchestre National de Lyon in a five-city China tour, the Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra in a four-city tour of Switzerland and Belgium as well as engagements with the Rai National Symphony Orchestra in Italy, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra where he was recently named Artistic Ambassador. Tan Dun currently serves as the Honorary Artistic Director of the China National Symphony Orchestra. Next season, he will conduct the English Chamber Orchestra in their tour to China. Tan Dun has led the world’s most esteemed orchestras, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, among others.
Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard widely by international audiences. His first Internet Symphony, which was commissioned by Google/YouTube, has reached over 23 million people online. His Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic has frequented major concert halls and festivals. Paper Concerto was premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Hall. His multimedia work, The Map, premiered by YoYo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has toured more than 30 countries worldwide. Its manuscript has been collected by the Carnegie Hall Composers Gallery. His Orchestral Theatre IV: The Gate was premiered by Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and crosses the cultural boundaries of Peking Opera, Western Opera and puppet theatre traditions. Other important premieres include Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo for the Berlin Philharmonic, Piano Concerto “The Fire” for Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic. In recent years, his percussion concerto, The Tears of Nature, for soloist Martin Grubinger premiered in 2012 with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women Symphony for 13 Microfilms, Harp and Orchestra was co-commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. Most recently, Tan Dun conducted the premiere of his new oratorio epic Buddha Passion at the Dresden Festival with the Münchner Philharmoniker, the piece was co-commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the Dresden Festival and will go on to have performances in Melbourne, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Hamburg, Singapore and London in the coming seasons.
For Tan Dun the marriage of composition and inspiration has always culminated in his operatic creations, Marco Polo was commissioned by the Edinburgh Festival and has had four different productions including, most prominently, with De Nederlandse Opera directed by Pierre Audi; The First Emperor with Placido Domingo in the title role, commissioned by the Metropolitan Opera of New York; Tea: A Mirror of Soul, premiered at Japan’s Suntory Hall, has since had new productions with Opera de Lyon, a co-production by Santa Fe Opera and The Opera Company of Philadelphia; and Peony Pavilion, directed by Peter Sellars which has had over 50 performances at major festivals in Vienna, Paris, London and Rome.
As a visual artist, Tan Dun’s work has been featured at the opening of the China Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale. Other solo exhibitions include the New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Beijing’s Chambers Fine Art Gallery, and Shanghai Gallery of Art. Most recently, Tan Dun conducted The Juilliard Orchestra in the world premiere of his Symphony of Colors: Terracotta for the opening of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s epic exhibition The Age of Empires.
Tan Dun holds a Master’s in Composition from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and a Doctorate from New York’s Columbia University in Musical Arts.
Tan Dun records for Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Opus Arte, BIS and Naxos. His recordings have garnered many accolades, including a Grammy Award (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and nomination (The First Emperor; Marco Polo; Pipa Concerto), Japan’s Recording Academy Awards for Best Contemporary Music CD (Water Passion after St. Matthew) and the BBC’s Best Orchestral Album (Death and Fire).
About the Bard College Conservatory of Music
Founded in 2005, the Bard College Conservatory of Music is recognized as one of the finest conservatories in the United States. The undergraduate curriculum of the Conservatory is guided by the principle that musicians should be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences to achieve their greatest potential. The five-year, double-degree program combines rigorous Conservatory training with a challenging and comprehensive liberal arts program. All Conservatory students pursue a double degree in a thoroughly integrated program and supportive educational community. Graduating students receive a bachelor of music (B.Mus.) and a bachelor of arts in a field other than music (B.A.). At the Bard Conservatory of Music, the serious study of music goes hand in hand with the education of the whole person. The Bard Conservatory also offers graduate programs in the vocal arts, and in orchestral and choral conducting.
Institutes and affiliate programs of the Bard include the US–China Music Institute, which promotes the study, performance, and appreciation of music from contemporary China, and supports musical exchange between the United States and China; a postgraduate collaborative piano fellowship, Advanced Performance Studies Program, and Preparatory Division.
About Bard College
Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences with a 155-year history of academic excellence. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 park-like acres in the Hudson River Valley. The College offers bachelor of arts degrees, with nearly 50 academic programs in four divisions—Arts; Languages and Literature; Science, Mathematics, and Computing; and Social Studies—and Interdivisional Programs and Concentrations. Bard also bestows several dual degrees, including a B.A./B.S. in economics and finance, and at the Bard College Conservatory of Music, where students earn a bachelor’s degree in music and a B.A. in another field in the liberal arts or sciences. Bard’s distinguished faculty includes winners of MacArthur Fellowships, National Science Foundation grants, Guggenheim Fellowships, Grammy Awards, French Legion of Honor awards, and Pulitzer Prizes, among others.
Over the past 35 years, Bard has broadened its scope beyond undergraduate academics. The College operates 12 graduate programs and has expanded to encompass a network of regional, national, and global partnerships—including dual-degree programs in four international locations; the Bard Prison Initiative, which grants college degrees to New York State inmates; and Bard High School Early Colleges, where students earn a high school diploma and an A.A. degree in four years. Bard’s philosophy sets a standard for both scholarly achievement and engagement in civic and global affairs on campus, while also taking the College’s mission to the wider world. The undergraduate college in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, has an enrollment of more than 1,900 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1.
This event was last updated on 12-21-2018