East Meets West

sample music:

(music from Curiosity Kills the Cat and The Galaxy Railways can be found on the film & television page)

Daniel Walker has worked and recorded in China since 1999.  Beginning with a commission to write a concerto for Chinese pianist Kong Xiangdong in July of that year, Walker continues to work with Chinese artists and producers in a variety of theatrical, film and concert music projects.

marco_polo_ballet_01.jpg

In 2007, French fashion designer Pierre Cardin commissioned Walker to compose a full-length ballet score for a new production to be produced and performed by the Shanghai Ballet.  Entitled Marco Polo: The Last Mission, the ballet tells the story of Marco Polo's mission to escort a Chinese princess from the court of Kublai Khan to Persia where she would become the new Persian queen.  As written by the show's producing director Fang Fang and Sylvie Zhang, the historical story is enhanced by a romantic connection between Marco and the princess which is played out in dream sequences during the performance.  The emotional love story serves as the central feature of the piece, which also includes lavish pageantry and exciting battle scenes.  

Paris Opera Ballet choreographer Josť Martinez worked with Shanghai Ballet directors, and designers from Pierre Cardin in Paris to create the colorful world in which the story takes place.  Walker's rich music mixes eastern simplicity with western harmonies to produce a unique combination that evokes the feeling of Marco Polo, a western traveler in China.  

The two-hour ballet was given an official Shanghai World Expo premiere, attended by Pierre Cardin and Chinese dignitaries on May 2, 2010.  The piece continues to be performed by the ballet company as part of their repertoire.

marco_polo_ballet_02.jpg

1) conductor Chen Xieyang works with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, 2) Walker with Maestro Chen, 3) Shanghai Ballet dancers rehearse

marco_polo_ballet_03.jpg

1) the Shanghai Grand Theatre, site of the premiere performances, 2) press conference with (L-R) Shanghai Ballet President Ha Muti, Shanghai Ballet artistic director Xi Lili, producing director Fang Fang, Pierre Cardin, Walker, Shanghai Ballet principle dancers Ji Pingping and Wu Husheng,

marco_polo_ballet_04.jpg


marco_polo_ballet_05.jpg

1-5) shots of the premiere performance - May 2, 2010 - Shanghai Ballet principle dancers - Sun Shenyi - Marco Polo, Fan Xiaofeng - Princess, 6) Pierre Cardin accepts applause from the dancers, the show's creators and the premiere audience

In April 2006, Daniel Walker started work on the film score for Curiosity Kills the Cat, a psychological thriller shot in the city of Chongqing, China.  Walker visited the location as a guest of the film's producers Jimmy Wu and Jane Shao and was inspired by the contrast between the poor local people and their wealthy neighbors (a theme that plays a prominent role in the film).  With this image in mind, Walker wrote the film's song Between the Earth and Sky which was later performed by rising star Jia-Jia.  The score features Los Angeles musicians Terry Wollman (guitars) and Bobby Rodriguez (trumpet) and Chinese musicians from the National Ballet Orchestra in Beijing.  Curiosity Kills the Cat was released in China in October 2006 and will be seen throughout the world in 2007.

curiosity_01.jpg

curiosity_02.jpg

1) Walker in Chongquing, 2) in the studio with Jia-Jia, 3) working on the score, 4) Walker and Jia-Jia during an interview with Chinese television, 5) (L-R) Jimmy Wu (film producer), Jia-Jia, Walker, Mr. Kikuchi (music producer), and from Jia-Jia's management team, Mr. Liu, Linda Chen (front row right) and two staff members.

Following the success of Walker's collaboration with Jia-Jia on Between the Earth and Sky, he received an invitation to write a new song for her fall 2006 album.  Jia-Jia recorded Carry the Light in early September and it was released as a single in Japan in November.  The album Jia-Jia 1 was released in December and the song was chosen as the theme for the well-known Japanese animated television series The Galaxy Railways which began airing their new season in mid-September.

galaxy_railways.jpg

1) promotional poster from the show , 2) with Jia-Jia (2nd from left) are Mr. Matsumoto (center) creator and producer of the show, Ms. Goto (2nd from right) who sang the show's ending song and two narrators.

Daniel Walker's association with internationally known concert pianist Kong Xiangdong began in June 1999 when composer Giorgio Moroder commissioned Walker to write a three movement piano concerto for Kong. The concerto, entitled Tibet Dream was written from thematic material of Moroder and traditional Chinese and Tibetan folk music. The work became the centerpiece of a celebrated live concert broadcast throughout Asia from the site of the event at the foot of the Potola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. This event brought Kong Xiangdong's dream of a cross-cultural exchange between Tibet and China to life and included a performance by Hong Kong pop-star Andy Lau.

tibet_dream_01.jpg

Kong Xiangdong and Walker take a break during the 1999 recording sessions in Beijing.

This project brought Daniel Walker to China for the first time where he took the podium during the recording sessions in Beijing. He supervised the mix and preparations for the concert where he also performed with Andy Lau as his conductor.

The following year, Kong Xiangdong commissioned Walker to adapt Tchaikovsky's famous Romeo and Juliet Overture as a piano concerto. This music was performed as part of a grand Chinese concert event that takes place in a different international city every other year. In 2001 the concert was performed in London at the Millennium Dome. As performed, the Tchiakovsky adaptation was the second half of a larger piece that began with the beloved Chinese violin concerto, The Butterfly Lovers, which also tells a story of two star-crossed lovers like Romeo and Juliet. Walker combined the two pieces to create a musical representation of the two lovers as soloists who come together at the end.

tibet_dream_02.jpg

1-3) 1999 session shots, 4) Walker backstage before the concert in Lhasa, Tibet with Giorgio Moroder (left) and Hong Kong pop-star Andy Lau (right), 5) Walker conducts in the studio .

 

tibet_dream_03.jpg

Variety of shots during the concert in Lhasa, Tibet in August 1999. 

In 2002 Daniel Walker created a full concert of new material to introduce the pianist to a larger audience. Fourteen pieces were adapted from popular themes and Asian folk music as well as a brand-new work by Walker. The program was premiered in November 2003 and continues to travel with Kong as he performs throughout the world.

dream_journey_01.jpg

From the 2003 concert: 1) Kong Xiangdong and Walker at a rehearsal, 2) Kong discusses details backstage, 3) Conductor Pang Kapang (left) and producer Thomas Ho following the concert, below) Kong Xiangdong in concert.

dream_jpurney_02.jpg

During 2004 Walker composed two new works for Kong – Xian Fantasy, written for a celebration in the ancient capitol city of Xian, China and Confucius Capriccio, a modern piano concerto based on the sayings of Confucius. Kong, a descendant of Confucius, commissioned the piece as a personal tribute to his illustrious ancestor.

Daniel Walker’s partnership with many artists in China continues to grow in an emerging collaboration between East and West.