The Blazing Mirage

  • Composer Bright Sheng
  • Cello and Strings

The Blazing Mirage was inspired by the phenomenon of Dunhuang Caves which arguably have the greatest preserved Buddhist art frescos and the manuscript documents dated back from the fourth century spanning over one thousand years.

I consider Dunhuang a miraculous phenomenon—the colossal treasures not only survived over millenniums of time, but also endured the reigns of many religions and cultures. Dunhuang represents a cultural mélange: Although most of the frescos and manuscripts were of content of Buddhism (an Indian origin), there are volumes of images and documents on other religions such as Taoism, Nestorianism, and even Judaism; and, besides Chinese, the Dunhuang Manuscripts found in the caverns were also written in Tibetan, Uighur, Sanskrit, Pali, Sogdian, and Khotanese. There were music scores among the Manuscripts in a lost notational system, though several attempts of ‘decoding’ have been made in recent decades. Interestingly, there is a stylistic similarity among these diverse interpretations: the music all sound with a pungent Central Asian flavor.

However, perhaps the most important aspect of Dunhuang Caves is that it opened a window letting us observe the lives of ancient times that reflected this fusion. In fact, it was a testimony of how Central Asian and non-Han cultures have influenced, infiltrated and, to some extent, shaped important part of Chinese culture.

And it is from that angle I approached this composition.

The work starts with a cello recitative based on a Mukam (a Central Asian classical music form) motif I heard in the region during my first Silk Road field trip. The string orchestra introduces a well-known folk song from northern Shanxi, a province where Chang An, the ancient Chinese capital, located. At first, these two ideas appeared to be distinctive, but as the music continues through songs and dances, they gradually transform into one mélange.

The title of the composition came from a legend: In 366 AD, a Buddhist monk had a vision of a thousand Buddhas glittering in golden lights. And that prophecy moved him to build the first cave on the rocks of Dunhuang.

 

— Bright Sheng

World Premiere

Date Oct 26, 2012
Concert: New Vision Arts Festival – Echoes of Dunhuang
Venue: Hong Kong City Hall Concert Hall
Artists: Munich Chamber Orchestra
Alexander Liebriech, Artistic Director & Principal Conductor
Trey Lee, Cello Solo

Other Concerts

HKUST Music Alive! Inaugural Presentation performance

Date:

Oct 27, 2012

Venue:

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Atrium, HKUST

Artists:

Munich Chamber Orchestra
Alexander Liebriech, Artistic Director & Principal Conductor
Trey Lee, Cello Solo

Trey Lee & Munich Chamber Orchestra Concert

Date:

Oct 30, 2012

Venue:

Shanghai Oriental Art Center Performance Hall

Artists:

Munich Chamber Orchestra
Alexander Liebriech, Artistic Director & Principal Conductor
Trey Lee, Cello Solo

Echoes of Dunhuang

Date:

Nov 4, 2012

Venue:

Concert Hall, National Center for the Performing Arts, Beijing

Artists:

Munich Chamber Orchestra
Alexander Liebriech, Artistic Director & Principal Conductor
Trey Lee, Cello Solo

Banff Summer Arts Festival – Music for a Summer Evening

Date:

Jul 17, 2014

Venue:

Rolston Recital Hall, The Banff Centre, Canada

Artists:

Musicians from Master Classes of Banff Summer Arts Festival
Bright Sheng, Guest Conductor
Trey Lee, Cello Solo

HKAPA Academy Symphony Orchestra Concert

Date:

Nov 28, 2014

Venue:

HKAPA Academy Concert Hall

Artists:

HKAPA Symphony Orchestra
Bright Sheng, Guest Conductor
Jia Nan, Cello Solo

Musicus Fest in Espoo

Date:

Apr 7, 2017

Venue:

Tapiola Hall
Espoo, Finland

Artists:

Tapiola Sinfonietta
Eugene Tzigane, Conductor
Trey Lee, Cello Solo