Interview with Jiang Ying, Composer, Librettist, and Director of “Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage”

Comment Off 537 Views

January 25, 2019

By: Don of

What did you have to learn and how were you able to become a composer, librettist, and director?

(Jiang Ying) I have been learning music since I was a child. I learnt Chinese instrument Pipa at 6 years old and learnt composition beginning from 16. Writing scripts and directing performances is my fisrt try. Even I did not learn that as a major, but my particiaption in creation of several productions with many excellent director have give me many experiences in performance practice.

What was it like for you to be composer-in-residence for Shanghai Chinese Orchestra?

(Jiang Ying) This is my first job. I am the only one in my university class to work as a composer-in-residence in a professional Chinese Orchestra after graduation. This career gave me much experience and made me grow up from a student to a composer.

What challenges were presented when you had composed and directed Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage and how was it overcome?

(Jiang Ying) Direction is my interest and dream. After I set up the artistic standard and goal, I see the overcome as a process to finish the goal. And I always to choose see the difficulities from different angle.

What were you initial thoughts on the China National Traditional Orchestra and how were they different after collaborating?

(Jiang Ying) I worked for China National Traditional Orchestra as composer-in-residence from 2013 to 2017. I have created many significant innovative productions. CNTO is like my family. Members of CNTO are execellent, have great potential and a sense of unity and group honor.

What do you hope others take away after experiencing the overall concert and “Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage”?

(Jiang Ying) I hope all audiences, whether local chinese audiences or non-chinese audiences, can feel the long-standing and rich instrumental culture of China, the encouraging spirit of Xuanzang in overcoming all difficuilites to pursue his dream, and the magic of stage innovation of Chinese contemporary modern art.

What other projects are you working on?

(Jiang Ying) Now I am working for China National Symphonic Orchestra and are trying recently to produce some music productions featuring symphonic orchestra.

What advice would have given your younger self that you know now?

(Jiang Ying) I would advise the younger me to cherish the time to learn more knowledge.

What are some fun experiences you had while on tour?

(Jiang Ying) After the ending of each show in the tour, we will organize the artists to meet audiences and sign CD and souvenirs. I can feel the excited emotion of the fans who have come to see the show from other cities.

What 5 questions would you want asked if you, that haven’t been asked and what would be the answers?

1. What is the significance of life?

(Jiang Ying) To realize my dream and leave the world with a production that enjoy etheral value. That will be my significance of my life.

2. What will you do facing unhappy things of difficulties?

(Jiang Ying) Tell myself that everything is insignificant compared with living and death. To solve the problem when you have it.

3. What will you do if you get rich one day?

(Jiang Ying) To establish my own traditional orchestra group and tour around with them.

4. What dream do you have apart from working?

(Jiang Ying) To train my son into an excellent conductor

5. If you can choose again your career, what will you do?

(Jiang Ying) Building designer. To design unique concert hall and theaters.

What are your favorite causes you care about?

(Jiang Ying) I love to watch performances and sightseeing

Do you have any specific goals between now, 10 years and 20 years?

(Jiang Ying) To create the best production is my eternal goal

What are the best way’s for others to follow you on social media?

(Jiang Ying) I have Chinese sina weibo account named “姜莹作曲” (in English, composer Jiang Ying)



China Arts and Entertainment Group
A Concert Performance Celebrating Diverse Cultures of Asia along the Silk Road
Through Exotic Historic Instruments
New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC)
Tuesday, January 29 at 7:30pm
China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) is proud to present a concert performance of Image China: Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), January 29, 2019 at 7:30pm. Performed by the China National Traditional Orchestra (CNTO), the original production is the first concert drama by a traditional Chinese orchestra. For tickets and more information, please visit:
The concert showcases the diverse yet connected cultures found along the legendary Silk Road. The performance features exotic instruments that include the bamboo flute, xiao, huqin, pipa, suona, ruan, konghou, ghaychak, rubab, dombra, hobez, satar, dap, eagle flute and muqam from the peoples of Han, Uighur, Kazak, Tajik, and beyond.
Founded in 1960, The China National Traditional Orchestra(CNTO) is a state-level performing arts institution in China. Members of CNTO-comprising an orchestra of traditional instruments and a chorus-are highly-esteemed musicians both at home and abroad. In the concert, the orchestra will highlight traditional Chinese musical themes, while incorporating modern elements.
Wang Xiuqin, General Manager of China Performing Arts Agency, CAEG, said, “Xuanzang is a great example of cultural exchange in Chinese history. It demonstrates that China has always been open to learning about other cultures from abroad. We hope that this concert, featuring China’s top traditional orchestra, will both enlighten and enchant American audiences.”
Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage is composed and directed by Jiang Ying, conducted by Liu Sha and features Tang Feng as the concertmaster. Jiang Ying, joined CNTO in 2013 as composer-in-residence. She has devoted her career in the exploration and innovation of Chinese traditional music, receiving international acclaim for her productions.
“The greatest innovation of Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage is that the story is enacted through music, both through the musicians and their instruments,” Jiang Ying said.
Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage is part of Image China, a high-level cultural exchange program presented by CAEG, which introduces traditional and contemporary Chinese performing arts to audiences around the world. Since its inception in 2009, Image China has presented works at performance venues across the globe, including the Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and on stages throughout Europe and Australia.
The concert of Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage plays The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) on January 29, 2019 at 7:30pm. Tickets range from $70-$200 and are available at The NJPAC box office (1 Center Street, Newark) Tuesday – Saturday from noon to 6pm, at, or by calling 1-888-GO-NJPAC.
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler and translator who travelled on foot from China to India in the early Tang period and studied at the great Nalanda monastery. When he returned, he brought with him some 657 Sanskrit texts. With the emperor’s support, he set up a large translation bureau in Chang’an (present-day Xi’an), drawing students and collaborators from all over East Asia. He is credited with the translation of some 1,330 fascicles of scriptures into Chinese. Influenced by the Yogacara school, he established the Weishi (“Ideation Only”) school of Buddhism. Though it flourished for only a short time, its theories regarding perception, consciousness, karma, and rebirth found their way into the doctrines of other, more successful schools. Xuanzang’s detailed account of his travels, Journey to the West in the Great Tang Dynasty, has become one of the primary sources for the study of medieval Central Asia and India. The classic Chinese novel, Xiyouji (Journey to the West), was inspired by his life.
The China National Traditional Orchestra (CNTO) is the largest and most comprehensive music institution of its kind in China, comprising a full orchestra, a chorus, and separate departments for concerts and composition. Founded in 1960, CNTO’s inaugural President Li Huanzhi is an esteemed composer and Chairman of the Chinese Musicians Association. Current leadership consists of CPC secretary Xi Qiang, deputy director Wang Ciheng, CPC vice secretary and DPI secretary Wei Guoan, and deputy directors Zhao Dongsheng, QiaoAili, and Zhao Cong.CNTO carries the mission of promoting China’s musical heritage. With an extensive repertoire of traditional and new works, CNTO has long contributed to the country’s cultural landscape. Throughout the decades, many state leaders and dignitaries have enjoyed CNTO’s performances.
CNTO has visited more than 30 countries and regions across all the five continents over the years, contributing greatly to the world cultural exchange. CNTO has performed in the United States numerous times, making its U.S. debut in 1984 with the Los Angeles Olympic Games; performed with world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma at Carnegie Hall, followed by a 30-performance, 45-day tour in 1997 at the invitation of ICM; performed for world leaders participating in the United Nations Millennium Summit at the UN headquarters and Lincoln Center in 2000; holding concert in celebration of Chinese New Year in San Francisco and Stanford University in 2010; presented five concerts with an ensemble of over 90 musicians in Hawaii, Pasadena, and San Francisco, and “Trans-Pacific” music exchange event in cooperation with North Carolina Symphony in 2013; participated in the concert for Sino-US Media Summit organized by Goldman Sachs and presented by Meridian International Center in May 2015; toured to the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall in 2015 with three repertoires-Rediscover Chinese Music, Splendor of Folk Music and Impressions: Rediscovering Chinese Music; performed Impressions: Rediscovering Chinese Music in Miami New World Center in November 2016.
In recent years, CNTO has produced full-length programs that become the repertoire of the company, such as Impressions on Chinese Music, Rediscover Chinese Music, Looking for Dufu, Golden Echoes, Beautiful Rivers and Mountains, Grand Music from China, Bridge to Chinese Music, Cowherd and Weaver Maid, Chinese Music in Splendor, Beautiful Xinjiang, Tibetan Spring, Love Songs in the Moonlight, The Silk Road, Sun Yat-sen, and Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage.
China Arts and Entertainment Group (CAEG) was established in April 2004 with the merger of China Performing Arts Agency (CPAA) and China International Exhibition Agency (CIEA). As China’s first, large-scale, state-owned business group engaged in arts and entertainment, CAEG presents more than 4,000 events annually in more than 200 cities abroad, attracting more than 10 million audience members, playing a significant role in China’s external cultural relations. CAEG founded the Silk Road International League of Theatres (SRILT) in October 2016. SRILT has now grown into an alliance of 87 large theatres and art organizations from 33 countries and regions around the world and a platform devoted to international communication and cooperation.
CAEG has established a marketing network covering all major markets in China. The company’s CPAA Theatres comprise over 70-member theatres including more than 10 directly-managed theatres across 27 provinces and municipalities, including Guangzhou Opera House, Beijing Tianqiao Performing Arts Center, Shanghai Daning Theatre and Shandong Grand Theatre. Another subsidiary of CAEG, China Cultural International Tours Inc (CCITI) has explored new businesses in meeting and exhibition organization, art training, festival organization and town cultural tourism planning. In addition, the group has produced or co-produced shows including multi-media acrobatic extravaganza ERA-Intersection of Time, Shaolin Warriors, China Goes Pop, opera Marcopolo, Chinese versions of the musicals Mamma Mia! and Cats and other stage performances, which have received nationwide and international attention.
For years, CAEG has successfully undertaken and organized the “Meet in Beijing” Arts Festival, China International Chorus Festival, China International Youth Arts Festival, Asia Arts Festival, the “Image China” performance series, the “Happy Chinese New Year” events, the exhibition at China’s pavilion for “La Biennale di Venezia”, China Art Industry Expo, Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo and other large festivals, performances, and exhibitions. CAEG was also commissioned to conduct the opening and closing ceremonies of the 27th South East Asia Games (2013), the cultural performance for APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (2014), the closing ceremony for the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the “Year of China in South Africa” (2015), the opening ceremony at the Luxor Temple for the “China-Egypt Cultural Year” (2016), the China-Latin America and Caribbean Year of Culture Exchange (2016), the BRICS Cultural Festival (2017), the cultural performance for Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (2018) and other high profile events.
Jiang Ying (Composer, Librettist, and Director)
Upon graduation with a Master’s degree from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music In 2010, Jiang was appointed composer-in-residence at the Shanghai Chinese Orchestra. She joined CNTO as composer-in-residence in 2013. Among her representative works are Silk Road, Impressions: Chinese Music, Rediscover Chinese Music, and Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage. The major awards that Jiang has received include: Wenhua Award in the 18th China National Composition Competition; First Prize in the XIANGYIN Cup Chamber Music Competition; Golden Award in the 3rd Composition Competition by China Traditional Orchestra Society; Award for Young Composer by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. Jiang has devoted her career in the exploration and innovation of Chinese traditional music. She collaborated with director Wang Chaoge in 2013 and 2015 respectively, composing and arranging music for the large-scale productions Impressions: Chinese Music and Rediscover Chinese Music, garnering praise from audiences all over the world. Aside from extensive national tours, the two productions were staged at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall in December 2015. In 2017, Jiang created Xuanzang’s Pilgrimage as composer, librettist, and director, as a new genre of stage work defined as “a Chinese concert in drama”.
Liu Sha (Conductor)
As a graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in China, Liu pursued further studies from 2011 to 2014 at the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, studying opera and symphonic conducting with Alexander Polishchuk, as well as researching the Ilya Musin conducting method. Among his teachers at the master classes were Seiji Ozawa, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jorma Panula, Colin Meters and Gustav Meier. As CNTO’s conductor-in-residence, he has conducted CNTO on its tours to Russia, France, Korea, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany and the United States. As a leading figure among the new generation of traditional orchestra conductors, he has premiered and commissioned hundreds of new works from composers of the younger generation. In 2015, he conducted two concerts featuring music composed by Jiang Ying at the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. He participated in the Chinese New Year’s Concert in Hawaii, the Pan-Pacific Asian Arts Festival in San Francisco, and other state-level culture events.
Tang Feng (Concertmaster)
Concert Master of the China National Traditional Orchestra, Tang Feng is a performer of national first-class honour. As a certified expert recognized by the Ministry of Culture, he enjoys subsidy from the State Department. Among the many venues he has appeared in a dozen countries are Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Centre, Musikverein, Théâtre des Champs Elysées etc. He is awarded the highest prize by the inaugural international music festival in Samarkand, Uzbekistan organized by UNESCO.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About the author

Editor of Media website.
Free Newsletter Updated Daily