Zhou Tian’s “Gift” premieres to rave reviews

Composer's skill highlighted in New York Philharmonic performance.

Composer Zhou Tian following the premier of his work "Gift." Photo credit: Chris Lee


Zhou Tian, an associate professor of composition at the MSU College of Music, has had several anticipated and well-reviewed premieres of his music over the past few years. Still, the premier of his new work titled "Gift" was special. It was performed by the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Shanghai Symphony Orchestra principal conductor Long Yu, during the orchestra’s Lunar New Year concert on Jan 28, 2020 at David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center.

The venue and musicians were superb, but it was a review from critic Jon Sobel on Blogcritics that captured the college's attention. Sobel said that "if it hadn’t been positioned as a curtain-raiser, Zhou’s 'Gift' would have been a show-stopper." Sobel went on:

"A fanfare introduction explodes into jazz-age fireworks, giving way to a short lyrical legato section crowned by a golden French horn melody. Dissonant cross-currents among the strings and winds lead back to a thoughtful echo of the opening fanfare, climaxing with toccata-like thrills.

"The piece sustains a concise, beautifully ordered narrative, yet is full of surprises. Long Yu’s tightly focused direction matched Zhou’s mastery of the colors of the orchestra, turning the performance into a triumph of musical universality as well as fine writing.”

It was a fantastic debut. Hear some of his other works and find out more about this Grammy-nominated composer we are proud to call a colleague.

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