BUDDHA PASSION BY TAN DUN

Grammy and Academy Award-winning composer Tan Dun, renowned for his ability to span the boundaries of classical music and Eastern and Western traditions, is considered one of the most prominent figures of “world classical” music. His Buddha Passion, which can also be staged as an opera, is a 95-minute oratorio illustrating six Buddha parables and stories, with the sixth being the Buddha’s ascension into Nirvana.  Structured in six acts, Buddha Passion captures the ancient narratives of the Buddha’s teachings and the timeless, universal concepts of love, forgiveness and sacrifice, summarising the stories portrayed on the walls of the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang in an exceptionally unique musical work.

Presented by Abu Dhabi Festival 
Middle East Premiere
Emirates Palace
18 March 2023

About the Artist

The world-renowned artist and UNESCO Global Goodwill Ambassador Tan Dun, has made an indelible mark on the world’s music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical music, multimedia performance, and Eastern and Western traditions. Tan Dun is the winner of today’s most prestigious honors including the Grammy Award, Oscar/Academy Award, Grawemeyer Award, Bach Prize, Shostakovich Award, Italy’s Golden Lion Award for Lifetime Achievement and, most recently, the Abu Dhabi Festival Award. His music has been played throughout the world by leading orchestras, opera houses, international festivals, and on radio and television.

As a conductor of innovative programs around the world, Tan Dun has led the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, NDR Radiophilharmonie, London Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre National de Lyon in their tour to China, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Orchestre National de France, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Filarmonica della Scala, Münchner Philharmoniker, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, among others.

Tan Dun’s individual voice has been heard widely by international audiences. His first Internet Symphony, which was commissioned by Google/YouTube, has reached over 23 million people online. His Organic Music Trilogy of Water, Paper and Ceramic has frequented major concert halls and festivals. Paper Concerto was premiered with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the opening of the Walt Disney Hall. His multimedia work, The Map, premiered by YoYo Ma and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, has toured more than 30 countries worldwide. Its manuscript has been collected by the Carnegie Hall Composers Gallery. His Orchestral Theatre IV: The Gate was premiered by Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and crosses the cultural boundaries of Peking Opera, Western Opera and puppet theatre traditions. Other important premieres include Four Secret Roads of Marco Polo for the Berlin Philharmonic, Piano Concerto “The Fire” for Lang Lang and the New York Philharmonic. In recent seasons, his percussion concerto, The Tears of Nature, for soloist Martin Grubinger premiered in 2012 with the NDR Symphony Orchestra and Nu Shu: The Secret Songs of Women Symphony for 13 Microfilms, Harp and Orchestra was co-commissioned by The Philadelphia Orchestra, NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. In 2016, Tan Dun conducted the grand opening celebration of Disneyland Shanghai which was broadcast to a record-breaking audience worldwide.

As a visual artist, Tan Dun’s work has been featured at the opening of the China Pavilion at the 56th Venice Art Biennale. Other solo exhibitions include the New York’s Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Beijing’s Chambers Fine Art Gallery, and Shanghai Gallery of

Art. Most recently, Tan Dun conducted The Juilliard Orchestra in the world premiere of his Symphony of Colors: Terracotta for the opening of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s epic exhibition The Age of Empires.

As a global cultural leader, Tan Dun uses his creativity to raise awareness of environmental issues and to protect cultural diversity. In 2010, as “Cultural Ambassador to the World” for the World EXPO Shanghai, Tan Dun envisioned, curated and composed two special site-specific performances that perform year-round and have since become cultural representations of Shanghai: Peony Pavilion, a Chinese opera set in a Ming Dynasty garden and his Water Heavens string quartet which promotes water conservation and environmental awareness. Tan Dun was also commissioned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to write the Logo Music and Award Ceremony Music for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. Tan Dun currently serves as Honorary Chair of Carnegie Hall’s China Advisory Council, and has previously served as Creative Chair of the 2014 Philadelphia Orchestra China Tour, Associate Composer/Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony, and Artistic Director of the Festival Water Crossing Fire held at the Barbican Centre.

Tan Dun records for Sony Classical, Deutsche Grammophon, EMI, Opus Arte, BIS and Naxos. His recordings have garnered many accolades, including a Grammy Award (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and nomination (The First Emperor; Marco Polo; Pipa Concerto), Japan’s Recording Academy Awards for Best Contemporary Music CD (Water Passion after St. Matthew) and the BBC’s Best Orchestral Album (Death and Fire). Tan Dun’s music is published by G. Schirmer, Inc and represented worldwide by the Music Sales Group of Classical Companies.

Since 2019 Tan Dun serves as the Dean of the Bard College Conservatory of Music. In this capacity he focuses on further demonstrating music’s extraordinary ability to transform lives and guide the Conservatory in fulfilling its mission of understanding music’s connection to history, art, culture, and society.


Stay connected and subscribe to the Abu Dhabi Festival newsletter