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If Eight Memories in Watercolor happened to be the title of works in a gallery, what might we derive from it? "Memories" - therefore recollections or evocations, not works from life. And "Watercolors" - therefore rapid executions, like zen calligraphy, capturing essences with the minimum of gesture. Tan Dun has written (translated by Alice Lu and Han Choi):
"I met Lang Lang two years ago at a New Year's celebration. The clock had just struck midnight and friends asked Lang Lang to play something to ring in the New Year. He agreed, and proceeded to play a small piece. We were all deeply captivated by his playing. I was moved beyond words, although those around me didn't understand why. I was so touched that I couldn't believe my ears. The piece Lang Lang had just performed was called 'Floating Clouds,' which was a piece I had composed over 20 years ago (four years before Lang Lang was born). This was the first composition I had written for the piano. Lang Lang's performance was so pure, it made me feel as if the piece had been written with him in mind. Never mind that he was yet to be born at that time. His music evoked the voices of my heart and the scents of the soil in my hometown. It was most gratifying to be reminded of where I had been and how far I had come by a musician's performance.
"This piece, Eight Memories in Watercolor, was the first piece I had written as a student at the Central Music Conservatory in 1978. I had just moved from Hunan to Beijing. At that time, the Cultural Revolution had just ended. China had just begun to open up. At the same time that I was learning Western classical and modern music, I was also very homesick, and I missed the memories and folk songs of my youth. Therefore, I wrote my first piano composition. It was the journal of my homesickness.
"The piece is divided into eight sections. Four sections (Nos. 2, 3, 4, and 8) are based on my favorite Hunan folk songs. The other four (Nos. 1, 5, 6, and 7) are my own original compositions."
- Grant Hiroshima is executive director of a private foundation in Chicago and the former Director of Technology Development for the Los Angeles Philharmonic.