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Tan Dun

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Circle with Four Trios, Conductor and Audience (1992)
G Schirmer Inc
Large Ensemble (7+ players)
Year Composed
14 Minutes
Programme Note
Tan Dun Circle with Four Trios, Conductor and Audience (1992)
Composer note:
I imagine this piece as a ritual in which the musicians, conductor, and audience all take part. In a circle formation which encompasses the entire hall, the conductor acts as high priest. Space, sound, and silence are the critical elements.

I believe silence has its own set of dynamics. The idea is similar to the Taoist concept that the greatest sound, the one with the deepest meaning, may only exist in silence — that nothingness is all. I feel this strongly when I arrange the rests in much of my music.

Chants from the Epitaph of Seikilos, a first-century AD fragment of Greek music, serve as a pattern throughout Circle. The first time I heard this music, I felt captured by its sense of remoteness. I cannot describe what affected me so deeply, but the inspiration resulted in this piece.

— Tan Dun

CIRCLE WITH FOUR TRIOS, CONDUCTOR, AND AUDIENCE [showed] the composer's penchant for the theatrical, and for his appreciation of sound and silence, throughout whatever space he's afforded. Tan describes this work as creating a sacred circle of sound, space and silence, and indeed he conducted whole bars of silence into alternately chilling and tranquil being. He also led the audience into the piece with orchestrated entries of their own vocalizations. The audience was spellbound [and] left buzzing with excitement after performing under his hypnotic leadership.
Judith White, The Saratogian,01/01/0001
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