RUO HUANG (b 1976 )
Recently awarded First Prize by the prestigious Luxembourg International Composition Prize, Huang Ruo has been cited by the New Yorker as “one of the most intriguing of the new crop of Asian-American composers.” His vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese folk, Western avant-garde, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration using a compositional technique he calls “dimensionalism.” Huang Ruo’s writing spans from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and modern dance, to sound installation, multi-media, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film. Ensembles who have premiered and performed his music include the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Asko Ensemble, Nieuw Ensemble, Quatuor Diotima, and Dutch Vocal Laboratory, and under conductors such as Wolfgang Sawallisch, James Conlon, Dennis Russell Davies, Ed Spanjaard, Xian Zhang, and Ilan Volkov. Huang Ruo has received awards and grants from the ASCAP Foundation, Presser Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Argosy Foundation, Greenwall Foundation, Meet The Composer, NYSCA, Chamber Music America, American Music Center, Aaron Copland Award, and Alice M. Ditson Award.
Huang Ruo has collaborated with New York City Ballet’s principal dancer Damian Woetzel and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, in addition to kinetic painter Norman Perryman. In 2003, Miller Theatre featured Huang Ruo on its Composer Portraits series, where his four chamber concertos were premiered as a cycle with him conducting. New York Times critic Allan Kozinn listed this concert as the second on the list of his “Top Ten Classical Moments of 2003.” Huang Ruo’s Chamber Concerto Cycle was released on Naxos (8.559322) in February 2007; Leaving Sao, a work for orchestra and Chinese Folk Voice, was released on Albany Records with his own singing in 2008; and Divergence came out on Koch International in 2009. Huang Ruo’s film credits include soundtracks for Jian-Fu Gardenand Stand Up. The latter was recently named the Official Selection for the Rhode Island International Film Festival and the Atlanta International Film Festival.
Aside from being an avant-garde composer, he is also a conductor and Chinese folk-rock singer, releasing commercial recordings on Naxos and Albany Records, and making debuts at Lincoln Center as well as Carnegie hall. Also noted as an author, Huang Ruo published Selection of Classic Chinese Folk Songs with the Zhong Shan University Press. His music is published by the Huang Ruo Publishing and Recording Company, which he founded in 2000. Huang Ruo has been an invited lecturer and forum presenter at New York University, Columbia University, Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and Guangzhou Conservatory of Music. He was also a visiting composer at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the University of Georgia. Huang Ruo was born in Hainan Island, China, in 1976, the year the Chinese Cultural Revolution ended. His father, who is a well-known composer in China, began teaching him composition and piano when he was six years old. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, when China was steadily opening its gates to the Western world, he received both traditional and Western education at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. He was admitted into its composition program, studying with Deng Erbo at the age of twelve. As a result of the dramatic cultural and economic changes in China following the Cultural Revolution, his education expanded from Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Lutosławski to include the Beatles, rock and roll, heavy metal, and jazz. Huang Ruo was able to absorb all of these newly allowed Western influences without inhibiting factors. As a member of the new generation of Chinese composers, he clearly knows that his goal and task is not just to mix both Western and Eastern elements, but to go beyond that to create a seamless integration and a convincing organic unity, drawing influences from various genres and cultures. After winning the Henry Mancini Award at the 1995 International Film and Music Festival in Switzerland, he moved to the United States to further his education. Since then, he has earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in composition from the Juilliard School. His composition teachers have included
Randolph Coleman and Samuel Adler. Huang Ruo is currently a member of the composition faculty at SUNY Purchase. He is the artistic director and conductor of Future In REverse (FIRE), and was selected as a Young Leader Fellow by the National Committee on United States–China Relations in 2006.