Who or what inspired you to take up composing, and pursue a career in music?
I started learning piano when I was 5 years old, and I was exposed to classical music. It was not until the age of 15 that I met my professor in college in Beijing. He had a great influence on me and gradually led me into the world of modern music. I began to enter the stage of professional study of composition.
When I came to the idea of becoming a professional composer, I gradually came into contact with the works of composers such as Harry Partch, Stockhausen, Bernd Alois Zimmermann, Crumb, Feldman, and found that music could produce the same sound effect through different combinations, which was very exciting for me. Excited about those sound effects, excited about the possibilities.
Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?
My university professor,: Guoping Jia, who is also an excellent composer. A native of China, he worked as a young performer in China’s national orchestra before moving to Germany to study composition with Lachmann. There, he formed his own style: the deep-rooted culture of China and the impact of Western music had an impact on his music works. And I, too, have been thinking about this question: what is the relationship between my own cultural identity and the Western music that I have been subjected to all along? What kind of creative path should I take myself?
What have been the greatest challenges/frustrations of your career so far?
Every time I write a new work, I face new challenges
The traditional Chinese musical instruments are often used in the works. These musical instruments are actually very complex in themselves, such as the application of various overtones and various special performing methods, and how to combine them with Western musical instruments
These are all the challenges I have to face.
As for frustrations, for young composers, works happening by chance are very important, but at this point, the game is to provide a mechanism for such opportunities to young composers. I submit work, often not selected, and I don’t know why, because for me these works still feel good, so there is regret.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?
The most exciting thing about the commissioned works is that the players are the best players and the orchestra is the best. Everyone will do their best to realize the composer’s idea.
What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?
The biggest challenge of working with a particular band or performer is to “help them overcome it, overcome it”. It’s a challenge, but it’s also a pleasure.
Of which works are you most proud?
Two of my works are very special to me. One is an ensemble work : the legend of Kuafu, which is a work in which I really know how composition works. The other one is written for 14 instruments: A House Without Windows, which is a very true reflection of my feelings about the events I experienced at that time. Every time I listen to it, I make new discoveries.
How would you characterise your compositional language?
I like to write about human beings. I think human beings are the ugliest and the most beautiful creatures in the world. People’s emotions are complex and varied, and these uncertainties fascinate me. As for what specific material I use in music, it depends on what kind of imagination I have at that time. I am also complex. Up to now, I am still trying to walk on the road of understanding and knowing myself.
How do you work?
What I have experienced, what I have seen and what I have seen will touch me. A musical idea will take longer to form, but it may only take a month to actually sit at my desk and write it down. Of course, before this, we will also learn about the instruments involved.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok, Bernd Alois Zimmermann. They all build themselves in their works again and again, and overthrow themselves again and again. Never satisfied, always looking.
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Never stop thinking, never stop writing, always fight, always be imaginative, always fearless, always believe in dreams, believe in miracles.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
First, it’s the luckiest thing in this life to be a musician. Creation is a painful and happy thing so be prepared to have strong willpower. Never give up, because music is worth chasing. It’s a whole other world, fascinating and unfathomable. Secondly, be true to yourself and never create by pleasing your audience. That will be something you will not be able to look up to in the future. Finally, believe that music is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and it will give you a sense of what it means to be alive.
Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?
Go back to the past, to the future. Sink to the center of the earth or go into space.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Although everyone wants to be happy, I still think the word happiness itself means mediocrity. Happiness = people will have inertia. For me, one of the fascinating things about life is the struggle against inertia. Artist, don’t be too happy.
What is your most treasured possession?
An endless stream of creativity and restless heart.
What do you enjoy doing most?
Think, create, do yoga, talk with my good friends about life.
What is your present state of mind?
My current thought is that we should all be fatalistic rebels. Keep learning. Respect everyone’s own choices.
New music by Richie Wang, commissioned by BCMG, will be performed by BCMG on Saturday 1 September 2018, 8pm at Promotionsaula der Universität, Trier