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(b 1951 )

Qigang Chen was a teenager studying music at the Central Conservatory in Beijing when the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966, and he endured three years of ‘ideological re-education’. Despite this, he remained determined to pursue a musical career. The state reopened the conservatory in 1977, and he underwent a further five years of study with Zhongrong Luo (b. 1924). He won a postgraduate scholarship to travel abroad in 1983, and was to be Olivier Messiaen’s last and only student from 1984–88, after the eminent composer’s retirement from the Paris Conservatoire. Messiaen described Chen’s compositions as showing ‘real inventiveness, very great talent and a total assimilation of Chinese thinking with European musical concepts.’

Chen has received commissions from the BBC, Radio France, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Stuttgart RSO, Orchestra Symphonique de Montréal and the Koussevitzky Foundation. He was composer-in-residence at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg from 2004 to 2006, and was the musical director for the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

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