At San Francisco Symphony, world premiere of Fang Man work for orchestra and Chinese sheng

Posted on: March 3, 2022

“Since meeting him, Chinese-American composer Fang Man had wanted to write a concerto for Wu Wei, a specialist of the sheng, an ancient Chinese instrument,” writes Jasmine Liu in Tuesday’s (3/1) San Francisco Classical Voice. “ ‘It’s soft, like human singing. But it can be very powerful,’ Wu Wei says.… From March 3 through 5, the Song of the Flaming Phoenix, composed by Fang Man and performed by Wu Wei, will enjoy its world premiere at the San Francisco Symphony with Esa-Pekka Salonen at the helm. Commissioned by the League of American Orchestras [with support from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation], the piece was originally meant to be premiered in 2020, but its debut has been delayed until now due to the pandemic…. Wu Wei will play … not the original sheng but a modified one [with] 37 pipes as opposed to the conventional 17…. Wu Wei reemphasizes that the piece poses new performance challenges, [requiring] him to be in dialogue with the force of a full orchestra. With the piece, he forges ahead with his effort to widen the canon for the sheng, even including pieces with jazz and rock influences, and to induct the instrument into modern ensembles.”