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uschinaarts.org - The Pacific Composers Project

The Pacific Composers Project

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During the course of a busy conference schedule, composers He Xuntian, Qu Xiao-song, Chou Wen-chung, and Franki Raden (left to right) find time for informal discussion. (1992)

In June 1990, after two years of planning, the Center served as one of the major organizers of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan. It took place under the direction of Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas and the London Symphony Orchestra. For the festival, the Center recruited a 123-member youth orchestra from the Pacific region; hosted a Pacific Composers Conference; and designed three contemporary Pacific concerts, which were performed in conjunction with the conference.

Members of the PMF Orchestra's wind section - just four of the 123 musicians who played in the festival orchestra. (1992)
The unprecedented Pacific Composers Conference was held June 30 through July 10 and brought together forty-six composers, all of whom were at different points in their careers. Center Director Chou Wen-chung designed the ten-day conference to provide an opportunity for composers of Pacific heritage and varying musical styles, philosophies, and careers to interact, explore, and compare views in an atmosphere that would reflect their own cultural background. The conference consisted of individual composer presentations and discussion sessions during which a series of provocative artistic questions were raised. Topics included musicology and research, music theory, imagery, and the definition of a Pacific composer.
Ye Xioagang and Chou Wen-chung
The Pacific Composers Conference allowed composers the chance to learn much about each other's music, style, and personality. Sharing a laugh, composers Ye Xiaogang and Chou Wen-chung (left to right) relax together. (1992)

As an offshoot of the Pacific Composers Conference, in 1991 the Center founded the Pacific Composers Project (PCP) to help promote the musical works of young and emerging Pacific composers by providing exposure to their music through concerts and recordings. The PCP Library was set up at the offices of the Center for U.S.-China Arts Exchange on the Columbia University Campus in New York City. Throughout the 1990s, the library provided access to Pacific scores for Western performance groups, as well as information on Pacific composers and their compositions to scholars and the general public. Today the library is available for musicological research only and its resources are not available for circulation.

The Pacific Composers Project spearheaded a series of concerts through the 1990s. The first was Premieres! New Works from Mainland China, which featured works by five young composers. It was held on October 17, 1991 at Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. The second PCP concert was held on May 13, 1992 at Music Center De IJsbreker in Amsterdam. The program was based on concerts organized by the Center for the 1990 Pacific Composers Conference in Sapporo, Japan. The PCP was again the inspiration for two concerts held in Buffalo, New York, on April 16 and 17, 1994. These concerts, composed entirely of contemporary Chinese compositions, were part of a two-day “Festival of Music” that also included panel discussions. The PCP Library was used to plan the festival.

PCC Conference
Sharing the opportunity to address composers' questions in depth, Chinary Ung, Isang Yun, Chou Wen-chung, Joji Yuasa and Peter Sculthorpe (left to right) lead the opening of the Pacific Composers Conference. (1992)
Darangun for solo violin (1985) by Conrado Del Rosario of the Philippines