Elizabeth Hainen Collaborates with Tan Dun

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On Wed., Feb. 20, The Philadelphia Orchestra announced their 2013–2014 season, which includes a concerto commission by Chinese composer Tan Dun. Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women, Symphony for 12 Micro Films, Harp, and Orchestra will comprise part of the orchestra’s “Philadelphia Commissions” series on Oct. 31–Nov.2 and will be premiered by the orchestra’s principal harpist, Elizabeth Hainen. Hainen traveled to China to work with the composer on the new piece. We asked her to tell us about the collaboration:

“After working with Tan Dun over the last 10 years, we discussed a harp concerto and he agreed to write one for me and the orchestra six years ago. It has been a long time coming! To have a new concerto written by a composer so highly revered as Tan is the most exciting opportunity I can think of. He is a Grammy-award winning composer and honors his Chinese past by giving ancient traditions a current voice. Nu-Shu means “women’s secret writing” and is a real language created by women from over a 1,000 years ago in China. This idea that women could not read or write “man’s language” is unfathomable. Or is it? Just a couple months ago, the Taliban shot down 15-year-old Malala Yousfzai for advocating every girl and child to be educated. This concerto could not come at a better time. Here in the U.S., we have privileges that many countries covet. I hope that my voice in Tan’s new piece will lend a voice to galvanize women’s rights everywhere.”

For more information visit ww.philorch.org andelizabethhainen.com.

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