composer · pianist

bright moon, when did you appear? (2014)

six-part mixed chorus a cappella

dedicated to the terribly dangerous professor Sven-David Sandström 

duration: ca. 7 min. 




During the 2014 Mid-Autumn Festival, I was inspired to write a choral piece based on the occasion. While searching for a text, this particular poem by Su Shi drew my interest and gave me many musical ideas. I particularly wanted to express the sentiment shared by many non-western people who live abroad in the west, the feeling of almost never being able to be together with their families during the important cultural holidays and gatherings. However, the sentiment of being separated from their loved ones, their families, and their homes is universal. “I only hope we may have long lives, so that we may share the moon's beauty a thousand miles apart.” 


“Written to the melody ‘Shuidiao Getou’”

During the Mid-Autumn Festival of year 1076, I drank happily until dawn; greatly drunk, I wrote this poem while thinking of my brother Ziyou.



Bright moon, when did you appear?

Raising my wine, I question the sky.

I wonder, in the palace above,

Which year is it tonight?

I wish to ride the wind and return to my home there,

But I fear the beautiful mansions of jade,

For I will not be able to bear the coldness of heights.

Rising to dance, playing the pure shadows,

How can it be like the human world?



Around the red chamber,

Low through the carved door,

Shining on the sleepless.

Surely you wish us no harm,

Then why must you always be perfect in times of separation!

We have our grieves and joys, partings and unions,

The moon has its darkness and radiance, its waxing and waning,

Perfection is never easy to come by.

I only hope we may have long lives,

So that we may share the moon's beauty a thousand miles apart.

- Su Shi (1037-1101) 

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