Tag Archives: Chinese music

Wu Man & Huayin Shadow Puppet Band to Perform at New York Society for Ethical Culture

Wu Man

Pipa master Wu Man and Huayin Shadow Puppet Band are set to perform on Saturday, March 17, 2018, at New York Society for Ethical Culture in Manhattan. The show is presented by World Music Institute.

Recognized as one of the world’s leading performers, Wu Man has developed a career as a soloist, educator and composer who has given her lute-like instrument (which has a history of over 2,000 years in China) a new role in both traditional and contemporary music.

Wu Man’s work as a member of Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and her prevalent role in the recent documentary on the ensemble titled The Music of Strangers has brought her work to the attention of larger audiences.

Wu Man is collaborating with the remarkable Huayin Shadow Puppet Band (formerly known as the Zhang Family Band) for performances of old tune traditional music with shadow puppetry. Along with vocal performances, the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band uses the yueqin, banhu, erhu, lute, fiddle and a variety of percussion instruments (including clappers, gongs, cymbals and a wood bench) to tell lively stories of rural life in remote China and draw the audience into places and sounds rarely heard in the West.

Starting in 2007, as part of her planning for the “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices” Festival at Carnegie Hall, Wu Man began traveling regularly to China’s remote regions to uncover the country’s ancient musical traditions that are in danger of being lost, including the traditions of the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, seen in her 2012 documentary Discovering a Musical Heartland. The Band comprises farmers from Shaanxi Province’s Huayin County in a rural village at the foot of Mount Hua in northwest China. For more than 300 years the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band has toured the countryside, bringing its rugged shadow puppet plays that call to life the mythical heroes and gods of the oral folk culture of Shaanxi, often evoking famous battles of the Tang dynasty (618-907), to temple fairs and rituals.

Wu Man is bringing the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band to the United States for only the second time in an effort to not only preserve this traditional art form, but also show its relevance in our 21st century.

The program features Wu Man performing both solo and with the Band.

Saturday, March 17, 2018, 8:00 p.m.
Wu Man & Huayin Shadow Puppet Band
New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 W. 64th St, Manhattan


Artist Profiles: Wang Fei

Wang Fei

Wang Fei is an award-winning artist, published writer and accomplished musician who has toured internationally. Wang Fei was professionally trained in literature, music and art since childhood and studied with several masters in these fields. Not only is she one of the few scholars who have truly mastered the qin and who can bring qin music to a wider audience, she is also one of the few qin performers who still maintain the qin in the traditional way, as a scholarly art. Her elegant, graceful and peaceful style brings to her audiences the feeling of reading poems and enjoying Chinese landscape painting when they listen to her qin playing.

She has won several awards in the field of Chinese music and has given concerts numerous speeches, lectures, workshops and seminars on the guqin for many prestigious universities around the world as well as to the general public in China, the USA and Japan. She has written articles introducing the guqin to the public. Her music was included in an American textbook and CD on geography and music in 2003 to represent Chinese music. Not only is Wang Fei an outstanding guqin player she also organizes and promotes guqin-related activities and events.

Wang Fei

In recognition of her achievements in cultural exchange between China and other countries, she was made an Honorary Citizen of the City of Baltimore in 1993 and a Daughter of the City of Maoka Japan in 1995. Over a hundred television radio magazine and newspaper journalists from China the USA and Japan have interviewed her and written articles about her. Her biographical profile was included in the Chinese version of “World Who’s Who” in 1998 and “World Class Chinese Intellectuals in the Musical And Artistic Fields” vol. 5.

Wang Fei is the founder and director of the North American Guqin Association (NAGA), a council member of the China Guqin Committee and one of the youngest members of the qualifications committee and examiners for the national guqin grading examination in China.

Wang Fei is also a well-known author in China. She and her two sisters have been called the Chinese Bront Sisters. Their book “Three Sisters’ Skies and Dreams” was a bestseller in Beijing in 1997.


Artist profiles: Shu-ni Tsou

Shu-ni Tsou

Shu-ni Tsou started learning to play dizi at the age of ten at the National Taiwan Junior College of Performing Arts and went on to win the National Championship on dizi at the 1993 Taiwan National Competition.

Ms. Tsou has toured internationally since the age of thirteen and has worked with artists such as Evelyn Glennie (Scotland), Diali Djimo Kouyate (Senegal), and Sandeep Das (India). Shu-ni Tsou’s interest in inter-cultural music communication can be observed in most of her works.

Fusing traditional techniques with modern concepts she has been working with experimental performance troupe Noumenal Lingam. She is constantly in search of new colors and combinations in her music and remains eager to explore new modes of expression.


Artist Profiles: Jie Ma

Jie Ma

Jie Ma plays Chinese traditional instruments: pipa and ruan. “I began my musical studies at the age of five and became a professional musician at age 14. I studied with the great pipa masters such as Fendi Wang Dehai Liu and Yuzhong Kuang and ruan professor Jiliang Liu.”

In 2001 she received her Bachelor of Music from the Tianjin Conservatory of Music one of the best music schools in China. Because of her talent Jie Ma was accepted exceptionally as an adjunct professor in the music department of Liao Ning Normal University. “During my stay at Liao Ning Normal University I was constantly invited to many colleges to give presentations on Chinese traditional music and Chinese folk music. I was invited to Japan in 2002 to give a pipa and ruan concert in a cultural exchange program.”

In May 2004 she performed at Herbst Theater San Francisco. From 2004 to 2005 she hosted a radio program on introducing the Chinese music at the Sing Tao Radio Station. In February 2005 she performed at the Pan-Asian Musical Festival in Stanford.

I also began experimenting with different genres in 2005. In February 25 I played with the Citywinds Woodwind Quintet in San Francisco as a member of Melody of China a Chinese music ensemble. The concert combined western chamber music with Chinese traditional music.” In March 26 Jie Ma was asked to perform in an avant garde project titled Sound for Picture with the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra.

In a continuing effort to explore different sounds of pipa I play pipa with different musicians in different discipline and forms. In addition to collaborating with other traditional Chinese musicians I have worked with many musicians of different genres such as jazz country blues and rock. I welcome the opportunity to work with other talented musicians to create new sounds.”


Pipa New Sound


Artist profiles: Tang-Hsuan Lo

Tang-Hsuan Lo

Tang-Hsuan Lo studied the erhu since age 9 and graduated from Taiwan’s Chinese Traditional Music College. He has won many awards and enjoys exploring the rich color of traditional erhu, as well as developing an experimental sound for erhu from its ethnic roots.

He was a member of Taiwanese world music band A Moving Sound.

Tang-Hsuan Lo appeared in several movie soundtracks, including “My Greeky Nerdy Buddies”, “Zone Pro Site” and “Faithball”.

In 2014, he released “Jazz Erhu: Hu Says”. That same year, Tang-Hsuan Lo released his second album “Taiwan Erhu, T.S. Lo” (Buda Musique) featuring live performances.

Tang-Hsuan Lo is a member of Hudagi Crossover Trio, founded in 2012. The trio includes 3 Taiwanese musicians: Tang-Hsuan Lo on the erhu, Annie Chang on cello and Joe Hsieh on guitar. Hudagi Crossover Trio perform a mix of traditional Chinese music, classical music, pop, and jazz.


A Moving Sound (Motema)
Jazz Erhu: Hu Says (2014)
Taiwan Erhu, T.S. Lo (2014)


Artist Profiles: Red Chamber

Red Chamber

Red Chamber is a Chinese music supergroup based in Vancouver (Canada). The ensemble includes four renowned instrumentalists, Mei Han (zheng), Guilian Liu (pipa), Zhimin Yu (ruan), and Geling Jiang (sanxian).

On the album Regrass, the group performs stringband music wizardry exclusively on plucked instruments. The repertoire on the Redgrass CD includes Imperial Court classics of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) as well as contemporary compositions that include bluegrass, eastern European horo, jazz and other genres.

Although Mei Han moved to the Nashville (Tennessee) area in the United States, the group is still active.


Redgrass (Za Discs, 2009)


Artist Profiles: Mia Hsieh

Mia Hsieh

Mia Hsieh was born in a port city in Taiwan and now lives in Taipei city. She has been working in the art field and community development for many years. Her movement training includes modern dance, Tai Chi and Indian dance. She has also studied vocal training in traditional Nan-Kwan singing and contemporary vocal performance with Meredith Monk and Lynn Book in New York City, as part of her time there on a Fulbright scholarship.

Mia has developed her own performance style that she calls “singing body” physical theater. She has performed with renowned Taiwanese and international artists in dance, theater, music, visual art and film. She leads several different types of workshops rerlated to creativity and healing through movement and voice.

She is the lead vocalist for Taiwanese world music band A Moving Sound.


A Moving Sound (Motema Music)


Artist Profiles: Mei Han

Mei Han

Mei Han is a zheng virtuoso. Presenting music deeply rooted in over two thousand years of Chinese culture, Han is transforming the zheng into a powerful tool for the contemporary international concert stage. She is a consummate performer, appeared with leading artists around the world in a multitude of musical genres from symphonic, chamber and New Music to traditional and World music, or from Creative Improvisation to electronic.

Han studied with China’s top zheng masters Zhang Yan and Gao Zicheng, and performed as a featured soloist for over ten years with the prestigious Beijing Zhan You Ensemble, the premiere ensemble of its type in China. Han went on to become a rare blend of performer and scholar with two Master’s degrees in ethnomusicology, from the Musical Researchb Institute of the Chinese Arts Academy in Beijing (1995), considered internationally the most prestigious institute for Chinese music studies, and from the University of British Columbia (2000).

Han wrote the zheng entry for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the premiere music reference book, and has published articles in numerous music journals in both English and Chinese. Han is the director of the Chinese Music Ensemble at the University of British Columbia, founded the Chinese Ensemble at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and has lectured on Chinese music in many universities and music institutes around the world.

A dynamic performer and innovator, Han has been exploring new directions for solo zheng and unique combinations of zheng with other instruments in a contemporary experimental aesthetic. Works written for, and premiered by, Han include the world’s first work for zheng and harpsichord by Janet Danielson performed at the Open Ears Festival 2005; the first work for zheng and string quartet by John Oliver, premiered at the Vancouver Chamber Music Festival 2004 with the Borealis String Quartet; and the first original zheng concerto by Dr. John Sharpley, performed with the China Philharmonic Orchestra in Beijing, 2003.

A commanding virtuoso, Han regularly performs challenging new works by contemporary international composers including compositions by Minoru Miki, Yuji Takahashi, and Barry Truax amongst others.

Han’s career spans Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and North America. Her performance highlights include the Kennedy Centre and the Smithsonian Institutions (with Orchid Ensemble). Together with Raine-Reusch, they toured to prestigious venues in Australia (WOMAD), China, Czech Republic, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore (WOMAD), and South Africa.

As an accomplished improviser, Han has performed at major international jazz and experimental music festivals, including the Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Atlantic Jazz Festival, International Festival de Musique Actuelle de Victoriaville and the Vancouver New Music Festival.

Han’s first solo CD, Outside the Wall of traditional and contemporary works, received critical acclaim, with airplay on CBC (Canada), BBC (Great Britain), and ABC (Australia). Her collaboration with composer and multi-instrumentalist Randy Raine-Reusch on Distant Wind for zheng duet, and Road to Kashgar with the Orchid Ensemble were nominated for Juno Awards (Best Global).

Han recorded Ume with piano luminary Paul Plimley, creating a rich and original musical language in contemporary jazz aesthetic.

Mei Han was one of the members of Vancouver-based Chinagrass ensemble Red Chamber.

In 2016, Mei Han moved to Tennessee (USA) to direct the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University.


Outside the Wall

Distant Wind, with Randy Raine-Reusch

Road to Kashgar, with the Orchid Ensemble

Ume, with Paul Plimley

Redgrass, with Red Chamber (Za Discs, 2009)

Gathering (Asza Discs ZAN17, 2014)

Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music, 2016)

Web site: www.mei-han.com


Mei Han and Red Chamber’s Globe-trotting Enchantment

Mei Han and Red Chamber – Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music (ARC Music, 2016)

Dipping into the wonderful world of Chinese music, ARC Music is set to release Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music by the esteemed zheng player Mei Han and all women musical group Red Chamber on September 30th. Appearing on the Za Discs label, Ms. Han has recordings such as Ume (2006), Distant Wind (2005) with Randy Raine-Reusch, Outside the Wall (2005) with the Borealis String Quartet and the 2014 offering Gathering with Red Chamber. Red Chamber also has the 2008 recording Redgrass, also on the Za Discs, for listeners to explore.

With the combined musical prowess of Ms. Han and Red Chamber’s Guilian Liu, Geling Jiang and Zhimin Yu, one might suspect that this “plucked string” ensemble is simply a traditional Chinese musical group, but that would be far from the width and breadth of the musical aspirations of these musicians.

Masters of the zheng or long zither, the pipa or teardrop lute, the saxion or fretless longneck lute, the zhongruan or moon lute and the daruan or bass moon lute, Ms. Han and Red Chamber’s members delve into just about every kind of music from the music of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to jazz to varied folk traditions from around the world and even slipping into the plucked goodness of Bluegrass.

Pairing elegance and pure passion, Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music opens with the jaunty “Dao Chuilian,” giving a listen into a 20th century Guangdong province, before diving headfirst into the quick work of composer Moshe Denburg’s “Dark Red Ruby” with its dashes of a klezmer and Balkan style by way of the liuqin or small teardrop lute and zheng by Ms. Han, pipa by Liu, zhongruan by Ms. Jiang and daruan by Ms. Yu.

“Xi’an Medley” is a lovely track comprised of a collection of tunes with names like “Melody of Plum Blossom” and “Moth to Flame.”

“Nokoto,” a tribute to Japanese koto master Tadao Sawai, is elegantly lush with the addition of Randy Raine-Reusch on zheng and Laurence Mollerup on acoustic bass.

Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music reveals more treats with the addition of “Girl Picking Flowers,” a composition by Red Chamber’s Ms. Yu, the Chaozhou styled track “Pink Lotus in Many Modes” and the riotously delightful Bulgarian folk dance “Gakino Horo.”

“Peng Baban” is a delicious traditional styled track from Shandong province. Other delights include the raucous folk tune “Sunny Spring and White Snow, “Datun Jelut,” a folk tune from the Kenyah and Kayan peoples of northern Borneo and the spunky “Dance of the Yao People,” a celebration of the Yao people of southwestern China.

Despite its rather prosaic title, Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music is a globe-trotting delight. Ms. Han and Red Chamber’s Ms. Liu, Ms. Jiang and Ms. Yu are truly impressive in their musical prowess as they are in the musical reach and well worth a listen.

Buy Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music in the Americas

Buy Classical & Contemporary Chinese Music in Europe


Artist Profiles: Wu Man

Wu Man
Wu Man

Wu Man is an internationally renowned pipa (Chinese lute) virtuoso. Born in Hangzhou (China), Wu Man studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing where she became the first recipient of a master’s degree in pipa. She currently lives in Boston (United States of America) where she was chosen 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 with Yo-Yo Ma with whom she now performs as part of the Silk Road Ensemble. Wu Man has collaborated with distinguished musicians such as Yo-Yo Ma, David Zinman, Yuri Bashmet, and Cho-liang Lin.

In the orchestral world she has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, and many others. Her touring has taken her to the major music halls of the world including Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.


Chinese Music for the Pipa (Nimbus Records NI 5368, 1993)

An Anthology of the Classic Pipa Pieces (China Record Co, EL-315, 1989)

The OverLord Removed off his Armour (China Record Co, BCD-90023, 1991)

China Collage, with Liu Sola (Avant, 1996)

Chinese traditional & Contemporary Music (Nimbus Records, 1996)

Music for the Motherless Child, with Martin Simpson (Water Lily Acoustics, 1997)

Ghost Opera, with Kronos Quartet Nonesuch, 1997)

Spring Snowfall, with Liu Sola (Also productions, 2000)

Chinese Traditional and Contemporary Music (Nimbus, 2000)

Aki no Yugure (Autumn Dusk), with Yoshio Kurahashi (Sparkling Beatnik Records, 2001)

Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet (Sony, 2002)

The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan (Smithsonian Folkways, 2002)

Posture of Reality, with Tastu Aoki – (Asian Improve Record 0065, 2003)

Pipa from a Distance (Naxos, 2003)

Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (Sony, 2005)

Wu Man and Friends (Traditional Crossroads, 2005)

New Impossibilities (Sony Classics, 2007)

The Cusp of Magic, with Terry Riley and Kronos Quartet (Nonesuch, 2008)

Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago (2008)

Off the Map (World Village, 2009)

Immeasurable Light (Traditional Crossroads, 2010)

Music of Central Asia, Vol. 10: Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route (Smithsonian Folkways, 2012)

Elegant Pipa Classics (Wind Music, 2013)

Our World in Song: An Odyssey of Musical Treasures, with Luis Conte, and Daniel Ho (Wind Music, 2014)

Website: www.wumanpipa.org