Chinese New Year



Tan Dun conductor
Hanggai traditional-meets-rock band
Steve Reeves double bass
Audience members mobile phones

About the performance

Celebrate Chinese New Year with the MSO and experience a performance unlike anything else you’ll see all year!

Visionary composer Tan Dun returns to Melbourne to conduct a thrilling concert featuring Hanggai, a troupe of traditional-meets-rock musicians from the steppes of Inner Mongolia via Beijing.

Also on the program is Tan Dun’s Double Bass Concerto The Wolf, inspired by the Chinese novel “Wolf Totem” by Jiang Rong, and Passacaglia (Secret of Wind and Birds), also known as the Cellphone Symphony.

Combining traditional instruments like the morin khuur (horsehair fiddle) and tobshuur (two-stringed lute) with a hearty serving of rock bravado (influences include Rage Against the Machine and Pink Floyd), Hanggai’s adaptations of Mongolian folk songs incorporate throat singing and have to be seen to be believed. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness this world music behemoth perform in full symphonic sound with the MSO.

Audience participation

Also on the program is Tan Dun’s Cellphone Symphony Passacaglia (Secret of Wind and Birds), which invites audience members to join the Orchestra in playing birdsong via a mobile phone download. Save the link below to your mobile web browser and, at the conductor’s invitation, play it to create a poetic forest of digital birds. As Tan Dun explains, “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.”

Tan Dun’s Double Bass Concerto The Wolf was commissioned by Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, Taiwan Philharmonic (NSO), and the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. Inspired by the Chinese novel “Wolf Totem” by Jiang Rong, the piece reflects Tan Dun’s personal connection and fascination with the spirits of the natural world and the sounds and customs of the ancient cultures along the Silk Road. The symbol of the Mongolian wolf and its life in the grasslands for Tan Dun is a mirror of the human spirit and our relationship to the natural world. As principal double basses from around the world have done, MSO Principal Double Bass, Steve Reeves will solo in this haunting, and beautiful work.

Cellphone Symphony download
Using your mobile phone, click on this link and save it as a web browser tab or favourite. When Tan Dun conducts you to press play, join with the Orchestra and let his birdsong – created using six ancient Chinese instruments – ring out through Hamer Hall.


Hanggai Festival Overture The Rising Sun 2019
Hanggai Horse of Colors
Hanggai Drinking Song
Tan Dun Double Bass Concerto The Wolf Totem
Hanggai The Transistor Made in Shanghai
Hanggai Grassland my Beautiful Home
Hanggai Borulai
Hanggai The Wind of Heaven
Tan Passacaglia (Secret of Wind and Birds)
Hanggai Samsara
Hanggai Swan Geese
Hanggai Xiger Xiger

谭盾 指挥

谭盾 《低音提琴协奏曲》





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The Hanggai Band

Generously supported by the Consulate-General of the People’s Republic of China in Melbourne, Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the People’s Republic of China, and the Li Family Trust. Presented in collaboration with Arts Centre Melbourne and Foxtel Arts, and proudly supported by our East meets West Program Partners: Fitzroys, Noah Holdings, Executive Wealth Circle, Arts@Collins, Ocean King, Viplus Dairy, Long River, Landream, Chu Family Trust, Wexchange, LRR Holdings, Hengyi, Ausfocus and Chin Communications.

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MSO celebrates our cultural diversity in 2019 fusing a blend of East and West in concerts throughout the year.

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