Water Heavens

Tonight I had an amazing experience. A very sweet young man named Taylor, who works for Tan Dun, escorted me in a chauffeur-driven odyssey to Zhujiajiao. Situated on the outskirts of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is an old village lined with canals. A flat bottom boat was waiting for us at the entrance to the town and off we sputtered away. It was such a magical setting of waterways lined with lantern-lit cafes full of happy people. After passing through several ancient bridges the water widened and there a Buddhist Temple loomed. We docked at a beautiful old structure but once inside I ┬árealized this space had been turned into something very special. This “water temple” was designed by visionary Tan Dun and Japanese architects to be the stage to his new work “Water Heavens.” The auditorium is two stories high with a water stage, outside and inside. There is a unique domed roof with an opening to the heavens, with pillars and floor that can be played like musical instruments. Before the show, Taylor insisted that I have some sustenance. We were led to Tan’s private quarters where a lovely lady arrived with steaming bowls of dumplings. Yum! After that comforting food I was led to a first row seat. ┬áThe show was comprised of a string quartet and pipa, along with percussionists and a vocalist. But the most amazing thing is that when the music became more animated the lights in the dark temple came on in a brilliant burst, and there were the monks chanting along with the music! Truly an unforgettable experience.

Arriving at the “water temple”