Qigang Chen

Qigang Chen
Qigang Chen | © Zhang Qi

Qigang Chen (陈其钢) was born in Shanghai in 1951. Raised by a family of artists, Chen attended the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing when the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966. For Chen, whose parents were classified as "anti-revolutionary bourgeois", this meant three years of imprisonment in an ideological reeducation camp. More than ten years later, he was able to continue his musical education with Luo Zhongrong at the Central Conservatory. In 1984 he won a graduate competition and could go to France, were he studied with Olivier Messiaen for four years. Although the world-famous composer was already retired, he accepted Chen as his "last student" because he recognized a great potential in him: "Endowed with exceptional intelligence, and an excellent internal ‘ear’, he has very quickly assimilated European music and all contemporary music."

In his works Qigang Chen draws connections between traditional Chinese folk music and western orchestral language in an organic way. He received commissions from Radio France, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart, Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal and Koussevitzky Foundation. Between 2004 and 2006 he was Composer-in-Residence at the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg. Chen’s works were honored with several Chinese and international awards. As the musical director of the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing he became known to a world audience. Qigang Chen lives in Paris and Beijing.