Decca Classics to release world-premiere recording of Tan Dun’s epic choral work ‘Buddha Passion’

The world-premiere recording of OSCAR, Grammy and BAFTA award-winning composer Tan Dun’s Buddha Passion – an epic choral work which will also launch the Edinburgh International Festival this summer – is set for release on Friday 4 August 2023.

Buddha Passion was recorded for Decca Classics live at the Shanghai Oriental Art Center Concert Hall in 2019 with Orchestre National de Lyon and International Choir Academy Lübeck, conducted by Tan Dun.

The work is a captivating tale of wonder, truth and gentle but irresistible transformation. The monumental work involving massed choirs, large orchestra, six percussionists and an array of soloists including indigenous singers, traditional Chinese instruments and a dancing pipa player, is the first such ‘Passion’ on a Buddhist rather than Christian narrative.



Set at the foot of the Himalayas and inspired by Chinese and Sanskrit texts, the story follows a little prince as he finds enlightenment and becomes Buddha, meeting an array of characters before reaching Nirvana. The life-affirming score fuses the ancient wisdom of Buddhism with the musical tradition of JS Bach’s Passions, featuring hypnotic orchestral textures and Eastern vocal techniques.

The epic work was inspired by a visit to the vast myriad of ancient caves containing countless musical murals in the Dunhuang desert.

Decca announced a major recording partnership earlier this year which was welcomed by the composer as fulfilling an almost unimaginable life-long dream.

The Edinburgh International Festival performance takes place at Usher Hall on 5 August 2023, with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Edinburgh Festival Chorus and RSNO Youth Chorus, conducted by Tan Dun.

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