From: Hainan Island, China. LA Opera: The Book of Mountains and Seas (2024).
Composer Huang Ruo has been lauded by The New York Times for having “a distinctive style.” His vibrant and inventive musical voice draws equal inspiration from Chinese ancient and folk music, Western avant-garde, experimental, noise, natural and processed sound, rock, and jazz to create a seamless, organic integration using a compositional technique he calls “Dimensionalism.”
Huang Ruo’s diverse compositional works span from orchestra, chamber music, opera, theater, and dance, to cross-genre, sound installation, architectural installation, multimedia, experimental improvisation, folk rock, and film. His music has been premiered and performed by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, National Polish Radio Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, Washington National Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Royal Danish Opera, Asko/Schoenberg, Ensemble Modern, London Sinfonietta, and conductors such as Wolfgang Sawallisch, Marin Alsop, Andrew Davis, Michael Tilson Thomas, and James Conlon.
His opera An American Soldier (with libretto by David Henry Hwang) has recently received its world premiere at Opera Theatre of St. Louis in 2018, and was named one of the best classical music events in 2018 by The New York Times. His installation opera Paradise Interrupted was premiered at the Spoleto Festival USA in 2015 and was performed at the Lincoln Center Festival in 2016, with future touring planning for Europe and Asia. Another opera, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, premiered at the Santa Fe Opera in 2014. His recent new opera M. Butterfly (with libretto by David Henry Hwang) received its world premiere with the Santa Fe Opera in 2022. His other upcoming new operas will be premiered and presented by the Seattle Opera, BAM's Next Wave Festival, Prototype Festival, Singapore International Festival of Arts, and the Hong Kong New Vision Festival, etc.
He served as the first composer-in-residence for Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and was the visiting composer for the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra in Brazil.
Huang Ruo was born in Hainan Island, China in 1976, the year the Chinese Cultural Revolution ended. His father, who is also a composer, began teaching him composition and piano when he was six years old. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, when China was opening its gate to the Western world, he received both traditional and Western education at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. As a result of the dramatic cultural and economic changes in China following the Cultural Revolution, his education expanded from Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky, and Lutoslawski, to include the Beatles, rock and roll, heavy metal, and jazz. Huang Ruo was able to absorb all of these newly allowed Western influences equally.
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. He 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.
Huang Ruo is a composition faculty at the Mannes School of Music in New York, and is the artistic director and conductor of Ensemble FIRE. He was selected as a Young Leader Fellow by the National Committee on United States–China Relations in 2006.
Huang Ruo’s music is published by Ricordi. For more information about the composer and his music, please visit HuangRuo.com.
Photo: Wenjun Miakoda Liang