SHUYA XU (b 1961 )
Born in May 1961 in Changchun, north-east China, Xu Shuya entered the composition and conducting department of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in 1978 and studied with renowned composers Zhu Jian’er and Ding Shande. Graduating in 1983, he then joined the department as a young faculty member. In 1988, he won an art scholarship from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and was sent to Paris by the Chinese Ministry of Culture to pursue his studies.
In 1989 Xu was awarded the Excellent Prize of the senior composition class (masters degree) of the École Normale de Musique de Paris. In the same year, he was also admitted into the senior composition class of the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris (CNSMDP), studying with Ivo Malec, Alain Bancquart, Gérard Grisey, Betsy Jolas and Laurent Cuniot. He also took part in masterclasses with Karlheinz Stockhausen, Franco Donatoni and Klaus Huber. Xu was awarded the 1992 Premier Prix of his composition class with ‘unanimous approval’, and again in 1994 as a doctoral student. He was enrolled then in the same year in the doctoral class of the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM) of the Centre Pompidou for one year, and settled in Paris.
In 1982 Xu’s first work, his Violin Concerto, won the first prize of the Alexander Tcherepnin Foundation in the USA. In 1992, Cristal au Soleil Couchant won the first prize of the 5th Besançon International Competition of Symphonic Composition (the Italian composer Luciano Berio was chairman of the jury), and was selected as part of Beijing’s list of ‘Twentieth-century Chinese music classics’. In 1993, his work Taiyi II for flute and electronic music won second prize in both the 21st Bourges International Electroacoustic Music Competition, and the 15th Luigi Russolo International Competition in Italy, and also the ACL Yoshiro Irino Memorial Prize in Tokyo.
In 2000 Xu worked with the French choreographer Jean Claude Gallotta to create the contemporary ballet Les Larmes de Marco Polo, which was successfully given its première at the International Art Festival, Lyon, France. The work was later taken on tour to festivals in Paris, Marseille, Brussels and Rio de Janeiro, and toured in Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo to great critical acclaim. In 2002, his commissioned three-act opera Snow in August was given its première at the Taipei Theatre, with Nobel Prize winner Gao Xingjian acting as both playwright and director. The work later won the ‘Best Annual Opera, 2005’ award of Opéra International, France.
Xu’s next opera, In Memory of Taiping Lake, was commissioned by NPS (Nederlandse Programma Stichting) for performance at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw in 2004; and the following year he completed a musical, West Street of Yangshuo commissioned by the Bureau of Culture of Guangxi Province and performed by Guangxi Opera and Dance Drama Theatre in Nanning. In 2007 the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival commissioned the symphonic poem Yun, which was given its première at the opening ceremony of the festival. His large-scale magic show Monkey King (2008), commissioned by the Chinese Puppet Show Theatre, has been staged more than two hundred times. In 2010 he was co-commissioned by Radio France and the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival to compose the symphonic poem World Expo Imagination. In 2011 the Taipei Palace Museum commissioned his opera Emperor Kangxi and the Sun King Louis XIV, which was given its first performance in the museum.
Xu Shuya is the chairman of the Shanghai Musicians Association, director of the Art Committee of the Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, member of the 12th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), member of the 11th Shanghai Municipal CPPCC and vice president of the Shanghai Overseas Returned Scholars Association. Moreover, he acts as the director of the Academic Committee at Shanghai Conservatory of Music, professor of composition and electronic music composition and doctoral supervisor. From February 2009 to September 2014 Xu Shuya acted as president of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.
Xu’s music is published by Editions Billaudot and by Editions Lemoine and Jobert. He is currently working on a new symphony, a joint commission from the New York Philharmonic and the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, to be given its première in New York in April 2016. His work Narrative on Dalai Lake will be given its première by the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra at the 2015 Shanghai Spring International Music Festival. He also has a new work for performance by the Ensemble InterContemporain, which will be given its première during Shanghai New Music Week in 2015.