By Bliss Wiant, Ching-fu T'ien, Konrad Kosell
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Ming Yue Han Xing. (Stars Of Ice, Wheel Of Moonlight Bright). By Bliss Wiant, Ching-fu T'ien, Konrad Kosell. Full Orchestra. For Full Orchestra. Full Score and Set of Parts. Published by Advance Music (AV.40005).
The composer of this melody was Bliss Wiant (1895-1975), who went to China in 1923 on behalf of the Methodist church, in order to build an exchange between the different cultures of east and west. He founded the music degree programm at Yenching University in Peking and taught there until 1951. Under his direction, Yenching students learned to perform Handel's Messiah and other major choral works with considerable distinction. Like Bartok in Hungary, he started to collect and notate Chinese melodies, asking students to sing songs from their home regions and listening to the songs of peddlers on the streets of Peking. With deep respect towards Chinese traditional music he also composed melodies for indigenous hymns in order to bring the Christian message to the Chinese people. A collection of these original hymns were included by Wiant in 1937 in "Hymns of Universal Praise" which is still in use today. In memory of Christmas eve 1933, this song was composed on the words of a poem "Stars of Ice, Wheel of Moonlight Bright" written by Wiant's student T'ien Ching-fu who also participated the yearly Christmas caroling introduced to the campus by Wiant. "The air was as clear as a crystal, there was snow on the ground and ice on the trees" wrote Bliss Wiant in his memoirs, reminiscing about the only Christmas eve with a full moon in the 20th century. In Chinese, a full moon is called a 'wheel', hence the reference in the opening line of the song. By listening to and studying Chinese classical music, I have tried to capture the atmosphere of that special night through the orchestration of this wonderful melody. Instrumentation: 2 flutes, oboe, english horn, 2 Bb clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in f, timpani, 4x mallets & percussion (gong, marimba, finger cymbals, glockenspiel), harp, 8x violin 1, 8x violin 2, 8x viola, solo violoncello, 4x violoncello, 4x contrabass.