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Review: With a brilliant ‘Buddha Passion,’ L.A. Phil and Tan Dun usher in the Year of the Boar

What is impossible is pinning down Tan. Since emigrating from China to New York in the late 1980s, he has made a practice of not only combining East with West but also the avant-garde with romanticism and leaving room for Hollywood flash. In fall 2000, for instance, Tan wrote his “Water Passion,” a Taoist take on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, for cellist Yo-Yo Ma, country fiddler Mark O’Connor, a Western chorus and a literal kitchen-sink of percussion instruments splashed in water. Six months later he picked up an Oscar for his score to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” at the 73rd Academy Awards.