Sep 09

“What is the secret of nature? Maybe only the wind and birds know…” That’s the question Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun set out to answer with “Secret of Winds and Birds.”

The piece was commissioned by Carnegie Hall for the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, a group of the brightest young players from across the country. Watch as they perform Secret of Winds and Birds.

Explaining his motivation for this composition, Dun said, “It has always been a burning passion of mine to decode the countless patterns of the sounds and colors found in nature.”

“Looking at ancient examples of Chinese music, there are so many compositions that imitate the sounds of nature and, specifically, birds. With this in mind, I decided to start by using six ancient Chinese instruments, the guzheng, suona, erhu, pipa, dizi, and sheng, to record bird sounds that I had composed. I formatted the recording to be playable on cellphones, turning the devices into instruments and creating a poetic forest of digital birds. The symphony orchestra is frequently expanding with the inclusion of new instruments; I thought the cellphone, carrying my digital bird sounds, might be a wonderful new instrument reflecting our life and spirit today.”

The piece begins with these digital birds in an eight-bar pattern, and this pattern repeats and evolves as the orchestra plays. The musicians are also called upon to chant, stamp their feet, whistle, and snap their fingers.
Dun observed, “The way birds fly, the way the wind blows, the way waves ripple…everything in nature has already provided me with answers.”

We’re so excited for the Cape Symphony to perform this unique work of art. You’ll need to see and hear this for yourself! Get your tickets now for Beethoven on the Cape, September 21 and 22, at or call 508.362.1111.








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