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October 19, 2012

Greetings from Shanghai!

Hello from China, where I am presenting a new harp concerto with Tan Dun for the Shanghai International Arts Festival. This is not a conventional work and has the potential to globally galvanize women. Tan Dun has preserved yet another musical tapestry of his culture by sharing an ancient women’s secret language through the voice of the harp. From a remote village in his Hunan home, Tan Dun bonded with the last remaining women who practice this secret code, nüshu—“women’s writing”—a simplified Chinese script used exclusively among women, developed during a time in China when women lacked the same access to education as men. Messages written in nüshu along the folds of a secret fan or embroidered in cloth were the only means for a woman to communicate to her sisters. Through the feminine form of the harp this women’s secret society will be revealed.

The Shanghai Arts Festival is an impressive enterprise with around 450 presenters from all over the globe: India, South Africa, USA, Europe, and all of Asia is being represented. 

I started rehearsing around 9:30 AM yesterday morning, followed by a coffee and noodle break, and then a 2:30 PM dress rehearsal for the executive director and artistic director of the Festival. Somehow I kept my wits.

Elizabeth Hainen and Tan Dun

As you can see Tan Dun is quite intense but an amazing artist. I LOVE working with him and I hope our presentation is a big hit today.