In 2017, the Barbican celebrates the medium of film with a “Film in Focus” series across the various artforms. As part of this, the Barbican presents Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy performed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
Chinese composer and conductor Tan Dun leads a performance of suites from his stirring scores for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ang Lee), Hero (Zhang Yimou) and The Banquet (Feng Xiaogang), accompanied by visuals from the films. Tan Dun’s trilogy sets the Martial Arts tradition originally found in Chinese opera into a modern context, giving it an international appeal through film. Delicate solos on cello, violin and piano, thundering percussion and the soaring strings of a live orchestra are among the elements of Tan Dun’s score that play an essential role in the big screen depiction of nine clashing armies, flying warriors and forbidden romances.
Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy brings together the music from three masterpieces of Chinese cinema, all performed here by one of the finest orchestras on the planet. These soundtracks are as much a part of the films as their plots, with warriors willed on by driving percussion and heroes propelled to superhuman feats by crescendos of strings.
The Oscar-winning composer brings a selection of the trilogy’s most remarkable moments to life, with live music and a big-screen showing clashing armies, flying warriors and forbidden romances.
While Tan Dun first attracted attention with works that mixed Chinese folkloric instruments and techniques with elements of avant-garde Western classical music, it was arguably the scores for his Martial Arts Trilogy that propelled him to international fame. The music sets the Martial Arts tradition originally found in Chinese opera into a modern context, giving it an international appeal through film.