Chinese musician Tan Dun, best known for composing the academy award-winning score for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", has taken a deep interest in the music found in the Dunhuang grottos in western China's Gansu province.
The UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador displayed the fruit of several year's research on the music at New York City's Asia Society. The main part of the showcase was a performance using some of the musical instruments featured in the murals.
Tan Dun displays fruit of his research in New York
There are 4500 musical instruments, 3,346 musicians and as many as 500 bands depicted on the murals of the Dunhuang grottos. The huge amount of material has been a source of inspiration for the Oscar-winning musician Tan Dun since 2014.
For the past two years, he has been going to the Grottos to research murals. He has also been to London, Paris, Tokyo and Boston to research the ancient Dunhuang scores collected by these cities' museums and libraries.
On top of all this, he's consulted with craftsmen from China and Japan, on making the musical instruments depicted in the murals, and the music styles of the era.
After all his research, Tan created a set of pieces entitled "Ancient Music of Dunhuang", played with the instruments depicted in the murals.
"I've been working on researching the music legacies found in the Dunhuang caves. I know it'll take a very long time to complete the task," he said.
"The Dunhuang caves have left a wealth of legacies in the arts. That's why they have been the object of research for artists for centuries. I take the task very seriously. It's one of my beliefs."
Tan Dun and several other musicians played four musical instruments replicated from the murals.
The Dunhuang grottos were at the crossroads of the Silk Road and are believed to hold many secrets yet to be unveiled.
Tan says the beauty of Dunhuang has haunted him for many years. When he had the chance to visit, he jumped at the opportunity.
With his research and musical reconstruction, Tan seeks to redefine the history of the orchestra and to offer audiences the opportunity to hear sounds from more than one thousand years ago.
Tan says this concert is only part of his planned ten years on the Dunhuang project. For the next few years, he will continue with this mission, to tell the story of the neglected part of music history.