Qigang Chen: Composer
Born in Shanghai, China in 1951
Lives in France since 1984
Naturalized French citizen in 1992
Qigang Chen started learning music from childhood. At the time when
Cultural Revolution broke out in China, he was studying at the Music
Middle School of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. His father,
administrator of the Beijing Academy of Fine Arts, famous calligrapher
and painter, was immediately judged "bourgeois", "antirevolutionary",
and sent to a labor camp. As for him young Qigang Chen was kept in confinement
during three years and underwent "ideological re-education".
Yet his passion for music remained unwavering: he went on learning composition
and scoring in spite of social and political anti-cultural pressure.
In 1977, Chinese government re-established the system of contest for
entering upper schools. This year, Qigang Chen is one of the twenty-six
candidates among two thousands passing successfully the entry examination
of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. During five years he
followed a training on composition with Luo Zhonghong (1978-1983). In
1983, he was the first nominee at the National postgraduate contest
and thus got the opportunity to go abroad and carry on a Master's degree.
And that was how he discovered France. During four years he received
a State grant and studied with Olivier Messiaen (1984-1988). He simultaneously
worked with Ivo Malec, Betsy Jolas, Claude Ballif and Claude Castérède.
In 1987, he followed a training session for composer at the IRCAM as
well as a musical composition training at the Academia chigiana in Siena
with Donatoni. In 1988, he obtained the Diplome supérieur de
Composition at the Ecole Normale de Musique, unanimously and with the
congratulations of the jury. In 1989, he obtained the Diplome de Musicologie
at the University of Paris-IV Sorbonne with grade very good.
II. Prizes and awards
*1986: First prize (awarded by the French Ministry of Culture) in the International Composition Contest
(Buffet Crampon) for clarinet and string quartet in Paris
*1988: Awarded the Prize "Stipendienpreis" at the 34th Summer Festival in Darmstadt winner of the 27th International Contest of Symphony Composition of Citta di Trieste
*1989: Awarded the Nadia and Lili Boulanger Grant
*1990: Selected "Musician of the Year" by the Chinese press
*1991: Winner of the Hervé Dugardin prize of the SACEM (Society of Composers and Publishers)
*1992: Awarded the Nadia and Lili Boulanger grant
winner of the International Contest of Composition for organ of Saint-Rémy de Provence
*1993: Awarded the Prize Villa Medicis Hors les Murs
*2000: Awarded Grand Prize of the City of Paris, year 2000
*2005: Awarded Grand Prize of Symphonic Music of SACEM
*2006: Awarded as “the best composer of the year” by French magazin “La lettre du musicien”’ as “the best composer of the year chosen by the professors of French high school .
*2008: Awarded Mercedes-AMG: National Spirit Achievers Prize
Awarded as the 2008 Honorable Fellow of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
The song “You and Me” awarded “Five One Programmes” Prize for the spiritual and civilization by the Publicity Ministry of China
2010: Awarded Extraordinary Composer Prize of the 7th Chinese Golden Records
III. Professional experience, commissions
*1975-1978: Conductor and composer for the Zhejiang Symphony Orchestra
*1983-1984: Assistant professor of musical writing at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing
*1987: Sextet "Voyage d'un rêve"commissioned by Radio France
*1988: Symphonic work "Yuan" commissioned by Radio France
*1990: State commissioned work for saxophone and 14 instruments: "Feu d'ombres"
"Poème lyrique II" for 12 musicians commissioned by the Nieuw Ensemble (Holland)
*1991: State commissioned concerto for flute and orchestra
*1992: Monographic CD by " Musique franoaise aujourd'hui" (REM)
*1993: " Rêve d'un solitaire" for 29 musicians and electronics
*1994: Jury of the Irino International Composition Contest (Japan) Jury of the Taiwan International Composition Contest
*1995: "Portrait Qigang Chen" organised by China International Culture Exchange Center at Beijing and Shanghai with the AFAA, the SACEM and the French embassy
Artistic consultant at Radio France for the Festival Présence 1996
Creation of " Extase" for oboe and orchestra commissioned by the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie
*1996: Creation of Sanxiao for Chinese traditional instruments commissioned by Radio France
Creation of " Un instrument de silence" for guqin and instrumental Ensemble commissioned by the Nieuw Ensemble (Holland)
*1997: Resident composer and professor at the Centre Acanthes of Avignon
*1998: President of the jury of the 9th International Composition Contest of Besançon
Creation of "Reflet d'un temps disparu" for violoncello and orchestra by Yoyo Ma, the Orchestre National de France and Charles Dutoit
Choreography on "Poème lyrique II" by Michael Mao Dance in New-York
*1999: Creation of "Wu Xing" for grand orchestra performed by the Orchestre National de France
Creation of "Instants d'un opéra de Pékin" commissioned by the Olivier Messiaen International Piano Competition 2000
Jury of the International Composition Contest at Hong Kong.
Artistic consultant at the Cité de la Musique in Paris for the project "La voix du dragon"
Creation of the four acts ballet «Raise the Red Lantern» from Zhang Yimou: based on Zhang Yimou's film of the same title, premièred by the China National Ballet in May 2001, Beijing.
First projection of art film based on Poème Lyrique II in Netherlands.
2001: Wu Xing (The Five Elements) for orchestra owned the finalists award of "Master prize" in UK
Creation of " Iris Dévoilée (Iris Unveiled) concerted suite for three female voices, three traditional Chinese instruments and grand orchestra, commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation, premièred by the Orchestre National de France, Muhai Tang in February
Creation Un temps disparu (Reflections of Vanished Time) for erhu and orchestra, commissioned by the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal, Canada April 2002.
Chen’s monographic concert was organized by The Beijing Musical Festival in which Iris Dévoilée (Iris Unveiled), Un Temps Disparu (Reflections of Vanished Time) for erhu and orchestra, and Wu Xing (The Five Elements) were China premiered by the China Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Muhai Tang.
2003: Creation of L’éloignement, for orchestra,commisioned by Commande du Stuttgart Kammerorchester and premiere on Nov.6 on Shanghai International Arts Festival, China
Virgin Classics made Chen’s symphony works album “Iris Devoilee”
Creation of Enchantements oubliés, commissioned by Mr. Kurt Masur, the conductor of Commande de l’Orchestre National de France. Premiere in Paris by French Radio Philharmonic Orchestra on Jan of 2008,conducted by Alan Gilbert.
Resident composer at Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra
Creation of Songe d’une femme française, commisstioned by Strasbour Philharmonic Orchestra and Vandoren SAS and premiere on Jun of 2005 by Strasbour Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Muhai Tang.
EMI/VIRGIN made Mr.Chen’s new works album “Extase” and awarded “5 Stars Disc”by BBC Music Magazine, “the best modern music albums of 2006”by French.
Appointed as the artistic director of “Presence China”’s Chinese Part.
Together with Radio France and “Shanghai Spring” music festival propose “Presences China” series at Shanghai,Mr. Chen invited the international composers visit China and compose the feeling about China base on Chinese instruments.
Appointed as the music director for the Opening Ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games
Creation of “Er Huang”, commissioned by Carnegie Hall and premiere on Oct in Carnegie Hall.
Gérard Billaudot Editeur (Paris, from 1985 to 2007),
Boosey & Hawkes (London, since 2008)
V. Works in progress
VI. Olivier Messiaen : A Glance at His Pupil
Since I left the Conservatory, Chen Qigang has been my only pupil,
and if I agreed to work with him for four years, it was because I hold
him in high esteem. Endowed with exceptional intelligence, and an excellent
internal "ear", he has very quickly assimilated European music
and all contemporary music.
I have carefully read all his musical works, and I can state that his
compositions display real inventiveness, very great talent and a total
assimilation of Chinese thinking to European musical concepts.
All his works written since 1985 are remarkable by their thought, their
poetry and their instrumentation.
I wish Chen Qigang the greatest success, for he deserves it.