The sudden relevance of composer Huang Ruo’s “Sonic Great Wall”

Posted on: January 11, 2019

“When he wrote it in 2016, the composer Huang Ruo couldn’t have imagined that his immersive multimedia work ‘Resonant Theater: The Sonic Great Wall’ [at Brooklyn’s National Sawdust on Monday] would be so timely,” writes Anthony Tommasini in Tuesday’s (1/8) New York Times. “Earlier in the day, President Trump … brought the federal government to a partial shutdown in an effort to obtain funding for a wall along the southern border of the United States… The Great Wall of China, [Ruo] said … was erected as a barrier against China’s enemies. But its watchtowers also became a series of signaling stations … a kind of ancient telegraph system…. Audience members [were] asked … to jot down thoughts about a wall… At certain points during the piece, a musician from the ensemble of 14 would walk [among the audience]. Those seated, as asked, whispered the written-down words … and then spoke the word clearly…. Players from Asko/Schönberg, the ensemble that gave the premiere of the piece in Amsterdam in 2016, had trouble getting travel visas processed because of the government shutdown. Players from the [New York-based] Dream Unfinished Ensemble leapt in to perform the program…. Four Asko/Schönberg players did make the trip.”

Posted January 11, 2019

In photo: Composer/conductor Huang Ruo and musicians from the Dream Unfinished and Asko/Schönberg ensembles at National Sawdust in Brooklyn on Monday. Photo by Jordan Rathkopf