Never Far Away

Never Far Away

A World Premiere Recording from the San Diego Symphony Orchestra

Never Far Away – Music of Bright Sheng, the latest studio recording from San Diego Symphony, is on sale now. Years in the making, this studio release features a world premiere performance on CD of Bright Sheng’s Never Far Away, his harp concerto especially written for the soloist on this recording, Yolanda Kondonassis. All selections on this CD are conducted by San Diego Symphony Music Director Jahja Ling.

Pick up your copy today in person at the Symphony Hall Ticket Office, the Symphony Gift Shop (during concerts), at Summer Pops Gift Tent, or you can order your copy right now online for $20.00. All prices include tax, and include shipping & handling and online charges where appropriate.

This recording features Bright Sheng compositions Never Far Away, Shanghai Overture, The Nightingale and the Rose, and Tibetan Love Song and Swing, all performed on recent Jacobs Masterworks concerts. (Telarc Catalogue #CD-80719)

Track Listing

1. Sheng: Shanghai Overture
2. Sheng: Never Far Away for Harp and Orchestra (I. Moonlight Shadows)
3. Sheng: Never Far Away for Harp and Orchestra (II. The Drunken Fisher)
4. Sheng: Never Far Away for Harp and Orchestra (III. Doctored Pentatonics)
5. Sheng: The Nightingale and the Rose (A Short Ballet Inspired by a Short Story by Oscar Wilde)
6. Sheng: Tibetan Love Song
7. Sheng: Tibetan Swing


"The recording...will add to the San Diego Symphony’s ever-growing reputation as an ensemble with substance and ambition...imaginative and expertly presented East-West fusions ...During the huge climaxes, powered by surging strings and winds, the harp is anything but a sweetly ethereal instrument. It’s wild and bold. So fearless is Kondonassis’ virtuosity, and so assured is the orchestra , that a question spring to mind: Could this CD be the San Diego Symphony’s first Grammy contender?"
—Valerie Scher, San Diego News Network

"The four works on this CD are an excellent introduction to Bright Sheng's prodigious gifts...'Tibetan Swing' Sheng's integration of Western-style composition and indigenous Chinese folk materials at its very best...Harpist Yolanda Kondonassis plays with a flair and a profound sense of connection to the spirit of Never Far Away...the San Diego Symphony...has clearly been superbly prepared for this recording and doesn't disappoint in the least. Music Director Jahja Ling - Indonesian born, of Chinese descent - is just as clearly committed to the music."
—Andrew Quint, The Absolute Sound

About Bright Sheng

Bright Sheng, born in Shanghai on December 6, 1955, was ten when the Cultural Revolution, the Maoist campaign that sought to purge China of Western influence and harden the grip of Communism on every aspect of the country’s thought and behavior, was unleashed upon his native land in 1966. His mother had begun teaching him piano when he was four, and she continued his musical training through high school. In 1971, he was sent to work as a pianist and percussionist in a folk dance company in distant Quinhai, on the border of Tibet, thus missing the enforced floor-scrubbing, pig-feeding, lavatory-attending and other such demeaning activities that were the lot of many of the country’s intellectuals during the Revolution, if not the terror’s emotional trauma. His 1987 composition titled H’un (“Lacerations”): In Memoriam 1966-1976 is a searing commemoration of that national tragedy. Sheng profited during his time in Quinhai, however, by using the opportunity to study the folk music and culture of the region, which he was to fuse with Western techniques and expression in his compositions. After the Cultural Revolution ended in 1976, he was among the first students to be accepted by the reopened Shanghai Conservatory, where he studied composition and won prizes in chamber music and art song, but was denied his diploma when he emigrated to the United States in 1982. After settling in New York City, he studied at Columbia University and Queens College of the City University of New York with Leonard Bernstein, Jack Beeson, Mario Davidovsky, George Perle, Hugo Weisgall and Chou Wen-Chung. In 1995, Bright Sheng joined the composition faculty of the University of Michigan, where has served as Leonard Bernstein Distinguished University Professor of Music since 2003. (bio by Richard E. Rodda)

About Yolanda Kondonassis

Yolanda Kondonassis is recognized as one of the world’s foremost harpists, performing as a concerto soloist and recitalist throughout the United States, Far East, and Europe. Hailed by the New York Times for her “powerful playing and musicianly energy,” she made her debut at age 18 with The New York Philharmonic and has since appeared as soloist with numerous orchestras around the world such as The Cleveland Orchestra, English Chamber Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Detroit Symphony, Houston Symphony, Orquesta Sinfonica de Puerto Rico, New York Chamber Symphony, Philadelphia Chamber Orchestra, Bilbao Orkestra Sinfonikoa, Dallas Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, Phoenix Symphony, Memphis Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Delaware Symphony, Rhode Island Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, and Rochester Philharmonic, to name only a few. She has presented recitals around the world at such venues as New York’s Lincoln Center and Taiwan’s National Concert Hall. As a Telarc recording artist with over 100,000 albums sold worldwide and praise by Gramophone magazine for the “clarity, colour, and rhythmic vitality of [her] playing,” Ms. Kondonassis has won universal critical acclaim for her fourteen discs, which include much of the standard repertoire, as well as her own transcriptions and compositions for the harp. This album marks her fifteenth project on the Telarc label.