About the Music
Julian Yu prefers to be described as a “composer” rather than be labelled a “Chinese composer” and he does not believe in overtly parading his ethnic origins in his music.
Since emigrating to Australia he has studied Western music in depth while in parallel exploring how to “inherit the Chinese musical tradition in different ways.” Instead of borrowing the external sounds and modes of Chinese music, he has tapped into its inner structures. Two prominent features of Yu's method of composition are improvisation, usually based on a piece he has previously composed, and ornamentation, the elaboration of existing material such as the music of J S Bach. Ornamentation is an important element of the Chinese folk tradition.
For a number of years after leaving China, Yu's music revealed little perceptible Asian influence. Only in the last couple of years has he felt himself sufficiently distanced from the Chinese tradition to reappraise the delights of using the pentatonic scale (in Philopentatonia and Pentatonicophilia). Yu's music is often delicate and intricate, but can be vigorous and rhythmical (e.g., Hsiang-Chi). His music represents a unique fusion of Asian and Western culture and, like the compositions of Messiaen and Takemitsu, is not confined by national or ethnic boundaries. “If a composer can be brave and not be limited by known sounds and styles, his composition may reveal new and beautiful worlds of sound.”