Away from Xuan

Yuanlin Chen

Innova 721


1       Away from Xuan                             14:01

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Tan Dun                                                                   


Wondering along the Journey          

2      I. Allegro                                                                       5:11

3      II. Andante                                                                6:43

4      III. Vivace                                                                     4:57

5      IV. Larghetto                                                           5:42

6      V. Presto                                                                       5:09

Melody of China

Conducted by Yuanlin Chen

Hannah Addario-Berry - cello

Wanpeng Guo - sheng

Peter Josheff - clarinet

Xian Lu - dizi

Eric Myers - keyboard

Hong Wang - erhu                                         

Shenshen Zhang - pipa                                                                    

Gangqin Zhao - percussion                       

Yangqin Zhao - yangqin


Chasing the Sun                                                        

7      I. Largo - Allegretto -

       Andante - Allegretto                                     7:29

8      II. Adagio - Lento                                               9:10

9      III. Moderato - Largo -

       Moderato - Andante                                     5:39

10   IV. Lento                                                                       2:56

The Minneapolis Guitar Quartet:

O. Nicholas Raths                                            

David Crittenden

Alan Johnston

Joseph Hagedorn


Away from Xuan

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

Conducted by Tan Dun

               The world may have its mysterious, abstract, and profound qualities (Xuan in Chinese) but through this composition I want to create a concrete path in the opposite direction, towards the realities of innocence and nature. The melodic and rhythmic material of this music is based on folk tunes found in Xinjiang, China.   


Wondering along the Journey

Melody of China

Conducted by Yuanlin Chen

               This is a multi-movement work for a mixed ensemble of eastern traditional-, western- and electronic instruments. The music depicts a mental journey between the worlds of reality and ideals.  Life is full of confusion, struggle, encouragement, overcoming, surprise, fantasy, hopeÉ The distance is endless, and the mindŐs journey is timeless and boundless. This piece bridges gaps not only in the longitude of eastern and western cultures but also in the latitude of ancient, modern and future time.

               The commissioning of this work was made possible by the Chamber Music America Commissioning Program, with funding generously provided by the Argosy Foundation Contemporary Music Fund.

Chasing the Sun

               This music was inspired by an ancient Chinese legend about a man who craved to embrace the sun. He noticed that the sun always moves from east to west and he believed that the place behind the mountain in the west must therefore be the home of the sun. He started to chase it to the west. He believed that once he climbed up the mountain, he would reach the home of the sun, and then could embrace it and enjoy sunlight forever. The man ran resolutely towards the west. He jumped over streams, swam rivers, crossed through jungle and climbed up the mountain. The sun, however, was found behind another mountain far away. The brave man did not give up. He persisted in his belief and continued chasing the sun. He crossed rivers, forests, jungles, and climbed mountains. The poor man finally died of thirst and loneliness in a desert. He had never reached the home of the sun.

               Instead of emphasizing the aspects of suffering and martyrdom for a steady belief, I interpret the sun-chaser to be a happy man. He was always full of hope; he appreciated the world around him; he enjoyed every moment and all his experiences during his rough journey. Although he died of thirst before reaching his destination, he had no regret for his life.

               The music depicts the spirit and the mood of the sun-chaser, as well as the landscape of this story. Both tonal and atonal music are used to describe the hardship of the journey. Special playing techniques were used to interpret the natural elements such as wind, forest, jungle, mountain, river, and desert. At the end, the music reaches a climax and then the manŐs spirit is transfigured. The music become pure, quiet, and fades out in the air.

               Commissioned by the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet through the American Composers Forum, with funds provided by the Jerome Foundation.

Program notes © Xilian Mo



The recipient of a Ph.D. in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, a Master and Bachelor degree from Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China, Dr. Yuanlin Chen has established an impressive career in the musical field. His compositions in various genres and forms include orchestral, choral, chamber, vocal and instrumental works, as well as music written for television, movies, and dance. His music has been performed worldwide at major concerts and venues in Australia, England, Romania, Japan, China and the U.S.A. Commissions and funding for Dr. ChenŐs compositions have come from a variety of sources including the American Composers ForumŐs Jerome Composer Commissioning Program, The American Music Center, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, MGQ/Jerome Foundation Commissioning Project, Kronos Quartet, Silk Road Foundation, NFAA, Tokyo Concerts, Inc. and movie studios, television stations, ensembles and orchestras worldwide.


Dr. Chen was the founder of the Computer and Electronic Music Studio at the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music - the first of its kind in China - and was invited to Australia, where he participated in The Culture Exchange Program in Electronic and Computer Music.  He has programmed and performed electronic music for Water Passion After St. Matthew, the opera Peony Pavilion, the movies Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and The Banquet and for the CDs 2000 Today and Bitter Love. He was the music editor for the films Hero and The Banquet. Dr. Chen is currently a guest professor of Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. As a visiting composer, he also gives lectures at institutions in the States, such as Peabody Conservatory of Music and Oregon University, School of Music.


The aloof dignity of Away from Xuan, the fresh interpretation of inflexible courage of Chasing the Sun, and the relaxed contemplations of Wondering along the Journey, are just some of the philosophic and innovative qualities found in Dr. Yuanlin ChenŐs music.



Away from Xuan recorded at Studio One, Broadcasting House, Glasgow, UK

Wondering along the Journey recorded and edited by Yuanlin Chen

Chasing the Sun recorded and edited by Fred Opie, Musical Arts Recording, Minneapolis

All recordings made at live performances.

Yuanlin Chen: Producer


Supported in part by a grant from the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York State Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.


Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation.

Philip Blackburn: Director, design

Chris Campbell: Operations manager