Wu Man is an internationally renowned pipa (Chinese lute) virtuoso, cited by the Los Angeles Times as 'the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western World.'
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 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 the noted cellist with whom she now performs as part of the Silk Road Project.
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.
In her words:
Over the past 20 years of my musical life, I have been trying to seek out effective ways to introduce pipa music and Chinese musical culture to audiences in the West. I have been involved in creating many cross-cultural projects by blending the pipa with variety of western and non-western instruments and art forms. The idea has been to introduce the pipa to audiences by presenting the instrument and the sounds it makes in a context with which they are familiar.
Recently projects have taken me in a different direction, a direction that has pointed me back towards my homeland. Although Asian culture has always been at the root of my musical spirit, after living in the West for 20 years, when I now look back to China I feel that there are so many fascinating aspects of the musical culture that I need to learn about and also so many new possibilities for today’s music world. I have had the opportunity to travel back to China and to discover my musical heartland. It continues to reveal musical layers to me that are steeped in history, that are distinct and unique, but also endangered. I feel passionate about celebrating these musical jewels with new audiences. I invite audiences to Return to the East with me.
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by C. Michael Bailey