With guest Appearances by the Kronos Quartet
Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man explores the extraordinary historical range of the pipa repertoire, both in collaborations with the Kronos Quartet on Buddhist and ancient shadow puppet theater songs, and in many solo pieces that trace and elaborate for the first time on record melodies from the 8th-12th century stashed away in caves, temples and aristocratic and imperial libraries for hundreds of years. Working for over a decade with the renowned ethnomusicologist, Rembrandt F. Wolpert, he supplied her with Tang Dynasty melodies transnotated from rare sources. Wu Man has recorded the original versions as noted in the ancient scripts, interwoven with hew original conceptions, utilizing lyrical pipa pieces that recall the Central Asian origins of the instrument, explore the Buddhist associations of some of its greatest repertoire and experiment, John Cage-style, a-la prepared pipa, with strings and sound. CD includes a 20-page booklet with complete translations of the ancient Chinese texts and an essay by Dr. Rembrant Wolpert, detailing the history of each piece. An unprecedented collection that extends and reinvents one of the great solo modal traditions of early world music.
1. 太阳圆月亮弯都在天上 - The Round Sun and Crescent Moon in the Sky
2. Night Thoughts
3. 林邑亂 序 –Cambodian Free Tune
4. 泼墨仙人 – An Immortal Splashes the Ink
5. Wang Zhao Jun
6. 南無阿彌陀 - Namu Amida (Homage to the Buddha of Immeasurable Light)
7. 鳥 - Tori
8. 夕阳钟楼 - Mountain Temple Bell at Sunset
9. Leaves Flying in Autumn
10. 慶雲楽 – Auspicious-Clouds Music
11. 东山烟雨 – Misty Rain on the Eastern Mountain
12. 三臺 – The Three Terraces
13. A Spring Flowing Over Stones
14. 輪臺与青海波 – Luntai and The Waves of Lake Kokonor
About Wu Man
Since moving to the United States from China in 1990, pipa virtuoso Wu Man has not only introduced the traditional Chinese instrument and its repertoire to Western audiences, she has successfully worked to give this ancient instrument a new role in today’s music, making the pipa available to a larger audience and seeing it valued by musicians and composers for its unique tonal qualities and virtuosic character.
Having been brought up in the Pudong School of pipa playing, one of the most prestigious classical styles of Imperial China, Wu Man is now recognized as an outstanding exponent of the traditional repertoire as well as a leading interpreter of contemporary pipa music by today’s most prominent composers. Adamant that the pipa, a lute-like instrument with a history of more than two thousand years, does not become marginalized as only appropriate for Chinese music, Wu Man has striven to develop a place for the pipa in all art forms and continually creates, develops and pursues ways in which the pipa repertoire can grow. Projects she has instigated and collaborated on have resulted in the pipa finding a place in new solo and quartet works, concertos, opera, chamber, electronic, and jazz music as well as in theater productions, film, dance and collaborations with visual artists including calligraphers and painters. Wu Man’s role has developed beyond pipa performance to encompass singing, dancing, composing, choreographing and curating new works. These efforts were recognized when she was made a 2008 United States Artists Broad Fellow.
Cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western World”, Wu Man has performed as soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras and is a regular performer at prestigious world music and classical music festivals worldwide. She is a principal member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road and performs regularly throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia with Mr. Ma as part of the project’s ensemble. Wu Man also often frequently performs and records with the groundbreaking Kronos Quartet, their most recent collaboration being the multimedia work, A Chinese Home.
A multiple Grammy Award nominee, Wu Man’s recent recordings include: Off the Map with the Silk Road Ensemble on World Village and In A Circle Records; Terry Riley’s The Cusp of Magic with the Kronos Quartet on Nonesuch;Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago featuring Wu Man’s Grammy-nominated performance of Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on the CSO Resound label; and the Grammy-nominated recording of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists on Black Onyx. Immeasurable Light is Wu Man’s second recording for Traditional Crossroads. Her first,
Wu Man and Friends, was released in 2005 and features musicians from Uganda, Ukraine and the southern Appalachian mountains, celebrating the affinity and variety of the world’s plucked instruments.
Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master's degree in pipa. When in China, Wu Man received first prize in the 1st National Music Performance Competition among other awards. She also participated in many groundbreaking premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers. Wu Man currently lives in Carlsbad, CA, and she formerly lived in Boston for 12 years, where she was selected as a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University. Wu Man was selected by Yo-Yo Ma as the winner of the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize in music and communication. She is also the first artist from China to have performed at the White House.
Kronos photo by Photo by Jay Blakesberg