My impulse in creating this seminar was to share with others the type of experience I had when first reading the poetry of Du Fu, an experience that stayed with me through my career as a composer and conductor. One of the greatest ways to be exposed to poetry is to read it aloud, sharing its beauty and directness. Even in translation, you know you are reaching back in time, reaching back into a different mindset.
Other readers of this poetry were also captivated by it. I was struck at how Gustav Mahler made it his own. The composer Tan Dun is another important figure who been part of the fascinating cross-fertilization between ancient poets and modern composers, both Eastern and Western. We like to talk about how something has been influenced by something else, but especially as more Chinese and other Eastern composers have become known in the West, we see how remarkably “interactional” the whole thing was – it was really more of a shared style between East and West than one influencing the other. This is something I hope we will all gain a deeper appreciation of as we listen to the poetry and music that we will explore in the seminar. We will also examine how music offers deep insight into a culture, as shown by Canadian musicologist Colin McPhee in his work on Bali.
I look forward to seeing you in July!
For more information on our Toronto Pursuits seminar, East and West in Music and Poetry, click here.
– Tom Jones
Thomas W. Jones’s vocation is musician: choral conductor, educator, composer, and arranger. His avocation is literature. He combines the two at Classical Pursuits. The poems of Tu Fu and Li Po have been in Tom’s life for years, set to music in his composition “Songs on Poems of Tu Fu” for piano and soprano. Hearing gamelan music in its native Balinese setting with theater and dance was a revelation.