From the recording Threaded Sky
A MacArthur fellow and proclaimed by the foundation as “an innovative composer who merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries,” BRIGHT SHENG has created an oeuvre that is not only with Asian influence but also with strong synthesis of Western musical tradition which makes his work distinctive and original. Sheng himself admits: “I consider myself both 100% American and 100% Asian.” He was born on December 6th, 1955 in Shanghai, and moved to New York in 1982 where he pursued graduate study and studied composition and conducting privately with Leonard Bernstein. In addition to composing, Sheng enjoys an active career as a conductor and concert pianist, and frequently acts as music advisor and artistic director to orchestras and festivals. He is currently the Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor at University of Michigan, and the Y. K. Pao Distinguished Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology where he founded and has been serving as the Artistic Director of The Intimacy of Creativity—The Bright Sheng Partnership: Composers Meet Performers in Hong Kong.
Angel Fire Duo for Violin and Viola was written in 2014 and dedicated to Bright Sheng’s wife Pam. It was commissioned by Music from Angel Fire and the premiere was given by wife and husband team of Ida Kavafian, violin, and Steven Tenenbom, viola. The composer writes: “Even (or especially) in a love duo, a couple has to listen to each other all the time, just like in a good relationship. Yet there are also tensions and frictions which need to be resolved. Ultimately, the two must sing together and at the same time express themselves individually. Except for the third movement which was based on a Chinese folk song from Shandong Province, musically the work was freely-composed, in which I hope my multi-cultural bearing would somehow seep through."