Archive of Posts by Skye Alexander

Assistant to the Chief Curator

Bright Sheng

There were moments, in the piece for bass and piano I heard last night, when I thought, “That sounds like an ehru.” Performed by the Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, Sweet May Again was written for Western instruments. Its title is from the last three words of the poem “The Locust Tree in Flower” by William Carlos Williams. But its composer is Bright Sheng, who is Chinese American. Born in Shanghai and much beloved in the United States and Europe, he is an example of what they mean when they say art transcends borders. When it honored Sheng with its “Genius Award” in 2001, the MacArthur Foundation called him “an innovative composer who merges diverse musical customs in works that transcend conventional aesthetic boundaries.”

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Hugging the rhino

rhinoceros vessel, b60b11

This bronze ritual vessel in the shape of a rhinoceros is the only known thing of its kind in the world. We are all fond of the rhino (I overheard a senior member of the staff express a wish just this morning to hug it!). It’s kind of a symbol of what makes the permanent collection so special. It’s about 3000 years old, and the hollow in its back held wine or food. I like that no one is 100% certain what it was used for.