Zhou Long wins Pulitzer Prize for opera

April 20, 2011
By Michael Quinn

Zhou Long

Zhou Long’s first opera, Madame White Snake, has been awarded the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in Music.

Commissioned by Opera Boston and premiered in February 2010 at the Cutler Majestic Theatre, the opera –  which tells the story of a powerful snake demon that surrenders its immortality to take on human form and experience love – was praised by the Pulitzer jury as “a deeply expressive opera that draws on a Chinese folk tale to blend the musical traditions of the East and the West.”

An expanded version of the opera was premiered in October 2010 at the Century Theatre in Beijing, China as part of the Beijing International Festival, and the score has been published by Oxford University Press.

Born in 1953 in Beijing, Zhou Long’s  family was exiled to a rural farm during the Cultural Revolution. He moved to the US in 1985 and has been a citizen since 1999. His music has been acclaimed for bringing together Eastern and Western influences, blending Chinese folk, philosophical, and spiritual ideals with modern Western instruments and ensembles.

Also nominated as finalists in the music category were Fred Lerdahl’s concerto Arches and Ricardo Zohn-Muldoon’s cantata Comala, a recording of which is available on Bridge Records.

South Dakota Symphony music director Delta David Gier, chaired the music jury, which included Washington Post critic Anne Midgette and  composers George Lewis, Paul Moravec and William Banfield.

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