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Wu Man, pipa – featuring New Music Ensemble and the Vera Quartet

March 31, 2017 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm EDT


Wu Man, pipa – featuring New Music Ensemble and the Vera Quartet
IU Global Arts & Humanities Festival: China Remixed

Friday, March 31
Buskirk-Chumley Theater
114 E. Kirkwood
7:30 pm (Doors at 7:00)
Free with ticket – Reserved Seating || CLICK TO RESERVE TICKETS NOW

An evening of solo and ensemble works for the Chinese pipa, featuring Grammy nominee Wu Man and ensembles from the IU Jacobs School of Music.  Part of the IU Global Arts & Humanities Festival: China Remixed; and a joint presentation of the IU Arts & Humanities Council, the IU Jacobs School of Music, and the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation.

Wu Man, pipa (guest artist)


New Music EnsembleDavid Dzubay, director
Vera Quartet*
Pedro Rodríguez Rodríguez, violin
Patricia Quintero García, violin
Inés Picado Molares, viola
Justin Goldsmith, cello

*IU Jacobs School of Music Graduate Quartet in Residence

Wang Huiran: Dance of the Yi People (1960)
Traditional, Kazakh (arr.  Wu Man): Küi 
Traditional, Martial: Shi Mian Mai Fu (Ambush Laid on Ten Sides)
Tan Dun: Concerto for string quartet and pipa (1999)
Zhou Long: Tian Ling (Nature and Spirit) for pipa and fourteen players (1992)
See below for program notes and a discussion of the pipa.

Artist Biographies

Wu Man (pipa)
Recognized as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Grammy Award-nominated musician Wu Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator and composer giving her lute-like instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Through numerous concert tours Wu Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines allowing Wu Man to reach wider audiences as she works to break through cultural and musical borders. Wu Man’s efforts were recognized when she was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, marking the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.

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 such as Tan Dun, Philip Glass, the late Lou Harrison, Terry Riley, Bright Sheng, Chen Yi and many others. She has been featured on PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and in 2011 she was the first Chinese musician featured on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series. She was awarded The Bunting Fellowship at Harvard University in 1998, and was the first Chinese traditional musician to receive The United States Artist Fellowship in 2008. She is also the first artist from China to perform at the White House. In 2015, Wu Man was appointed Visiting Professor of three major Chinese conservatories: the Shanghai Conservatory, her alma mater the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and the Zhejiang Conservatory in her hometown. As part of the residency, Wu Man will give lectures as well as coach students and lead masterclasses.

During the 2015-16 season, Wu Man embarks on an extensive North American tour with longtime colleagues the Shanghai Quartet and is Artist-in-Residence with the Kronos Quartet. She travels to Brussels and Geneva to collaborate with Uyghur singer Sanubar Tursun for performances presented by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, an interregional music and arts education program. Orchestral highlights of the season include a performance of Zhao Jiping’s Pipa Concerto No. 2, which was written for her,with the West Michigan Symphony.

Wu Man has performed as soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras, including the Austrian ORF Radio Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Moscow Soloists, Nashville Symphony, German NDR and RSO Radio Symphony Orchestras, New Music Group, New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony Orchestra and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Her touring has taken her to the major music halls of the world including Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, the Great Hall in Moscow, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Opera Bastille, Royal Albert and Royal Festival Halls in London and the Theatre de la Ville in Paris. She has performed at many international festivals including the Auckland Arts Festival, Bang on a Can Festival, BBC Proms, Festival d’Automne in Paris, Festival de Radio France et Montpellier, Hong Kong Arts Festival, La Jolla Summerfest, Lincoln Center Festival, Luminato, Mozart Festival in Vienna, NextWave!/BAM, Ravinia Festival, Silk Road Festival, Sydney Festival, Tanglewood, Wien Modern, WOMAD Festival, and the Yatsugatake Kogen Festival in Japan. Wu Man continually collaborates with some of the most distinguished musicians and conductors performing today, such as Yuri Bashmet, Dennis Russell Davies, Christoph Eschenbach, Gunther Herbig, Cho-Liang Lin, Yo-Yo Ma, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen and David Zinman.

Among her most fruitful collaborations is with Kronos Quartet, with whom Wu Man began collaborating in the early 1990s. They premiered their first project together, Tan Dun’sGhost Opera,at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1995. The work was recorded and released on Nonesuch in 1997. That same year, Nonesuch released Kronos Quartet’sEarly Music, which featured Wu Man on zhong ruan and da ruan (string instruments related to pipa) in John Dowland’s Lachrymæ Antiquæ. In 2005, Nonesuch releasedYou’ve Stolen My Heart, an homage to the composer of classic Bollywood songs, Rahul Dev Burman, featuring the Quartet, Wu Man, singer Asha Bhosle and tabla player Zakir Hussain. The recording was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary World Music Album. A recent project with Kronos is A Chinese Home, a multimedia work conceived by Wu Man, Kronos Quartet’s David Harrington, and theater director Chen Shi-Zheng, which received its premiere at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall in 2009. She participated in the Quartet’s 40th Anniversary celebration concerts at Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA and at Carnegie Hall, and is Artist-in-Residence with the Quartet in February 2016.

As a principal musician in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, Wu Man has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia with the Silk Road Ensemble. She has also recorded five albums with the group, including Silk Road Journeys: When Strangers Meet (2002),Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (2005), New Impossibilities (2007), and the CD/DVD A Playlist Without Borders/Live from Tanglewood (2013) on Sony Classical, as well as Off the Map (2009) on World Village. She is a featured artist in the Silk Road Ensemble’s 2015 documentary The Music Of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, as well as on the companion recording Sing Me Home, to be released by Sony in April 2016, as both performer and composer.

Adamant that the pipa does not become marginalized as only appropriate for Chinese music, Wu Man strives to develop a place for the pipa in all art forms. Projects she has initiated 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 and curating new works. She has premiered works by Chinese composers including Zhao Jiping, Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, and Chen Yi. Other notable projects include Orion: China, co-written with Philip Glass for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and recorded the following year; and Blue and Green, an original composition that she premiered with The Knights. Recent projects have seen Wu Man rediscover, embrace and showcase the musical traditions of her homeland, projects she has dubbed “Wu Man’s Return to the East.” In 2009 Wu Man was asked to curate two concerts at Carnegie Hall as part of the “Ancient Paths, Modern Voices” festival celebrating Chinese culture. Wu Man and the artists she brought to New York from rural China for the festival also took part in two free neighborhood concerts and a concert presented by the Orange County Performing Arts Society in Costa Mesa. In August 2012 Wu Man released a documentary DVD titledDiscovering a Musical Heartland: Wu Man’s Return to China as part of her ongoing “Return to the East” project. In the film, Wu Man travels to little-explored regions of China to uncover ancient musical traditions that have rarely been documented before.

Wu Man boasts a discography of over 40 albums including Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago,which features her Grammy Award–nominated performance of Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, as well as a Grammy-nominated recording of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists on Onyx Classics. In May 2012, Wu Man released her Independent Music Award–nominated CD/DVD Borderlands, which traces the history of the pipa in China. It is the final installment of the acclaimed ten-volume “Music of Central Asia” ethnographic series produced by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Culture Heritage. In Wu Man and Friends, released on Traditional Crossroads in 2005, Wu Man blends Chinese, Ukrainian, Ugandan, and Appalachian traditional music, performing alongside musicians from these regions.Her solo recordings include Pipa: From a Distance, released on Naxos World Music in 2003, andImmeasurable Light, released on Traditional Crossroads in 2010. Her most recent albums, released by Wind Music, include Elegant Pipa Classics, which combines traditional pipa repertoire with modern compositions, and the Grammy-nominated Our World in Song, a recording of familiar folk songs from around the world arranged by Wu Man herself, with Grammy Award-winning Hawaiian instrumentalist Daniel Ho and Cuban percussionist Luis Conte.

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. Accepted into the conservatory at age 13, Wu Man’s audition was covered by national newspapers and she was hailed as a child prodigy, becoming a nationally recognized role model for young pipa players. She subsequently received first prize in the First National Music Performance Competition among many other awards, and she participated in many premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers. Wu Man’s first exposure to western classical music came in 1979 when she saw Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performing in Beijing. In 1980 she participated in an open master class with violinist Isaac Stern and in 1985 she made her first visit to the United States as a member of the China Youth Arts Troupe. Wu Man moved to the U.S. in 1990 and currently resides with her husband and son in California. For more information on Wu Man, please visit www.wumanpipa.org or her artist page on Facebook.

(Photo by Stephen Kahn)

David Dzubay (director, New Music Ensemble)
David Dzubay was born in 1964 in Minneapolis, grew up in Portland, Oregon, and earned a D.M. in Composition at Indiana University in 1991. Additional studies included a fellowship in composition at Tanglewood (1990) and two summers as co-principal trumpet of the National Repertory Orchestra (1988, 1989). His principal teachers were Donald Erb, Frederick Fox, Eugene O’Brien, Lukas Foss, Allan Dean and Bernard Adelstein. David Dzubay’s music has been performed by orchestras, ensembles and soloists in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Mexico, and Asia. His music is published by Pro Nova Music, Dorn, and Thompson Edition and is recorded on the Sony, Bridge, Centaur, Innova, Crystal, Klavier, Gia, First Edition and Indiana University labels. Recent honors include Guggenheim Bogliasco, MacDowell, Yaddo, Copland House and Djerassi fellowships, a 2011 Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the 2010 Heckscher Foundation-Ithaca College Composition Prize, 2009 Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival Composition Competition, 2007 Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Composition Competition, 2005 Utah Arts Festival Commission and the 2004 William Revelli Memorial Prize from the National Band Association. He is currently Professor of Music, Chair of the Composition Department and Director of the New Music Ensemble at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington. Dzubay has conducted at the Tanglewood, Aspen, and June in Buffalo festivals. He has also conducted the League of Composers Orchestra in New York, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, the Greater Dallas Youth Symphony Orchestra, Music from China, Voices of Change, and an ensemble from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Kentuckiana Brass and Percussion Ensemble and strings from the Louisville Orchestra at the Music at Maple Mount Festival. From 1995 to 1998 he served as Composer-Consultant to the Minnesota Orchestra, helping direct their “Perfect-Pitch” reading sessions, and during 2005-2006 he was Meet The Composer “Music Alive” Composer-in-Residence with the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra. In the summer of 2011, David Dzubay joined the faculty of the Brevard Music Center as composer in residence.

Vera Quartet
The Vera Quartet is currently the graduate quartet in residence at the IU Jacobs School of Music, where they study with the Pacifica Quartet. They are also quartet in residence for the New Music Ensemble (NME) this year, performing contemporary works for string quartet on many NME programs and working with its director, David Dzubay. The quartet was formed in August 2015 and has been performing in and around Bloomington ever since. They have also performed at the Beethovenhaus in Bonn, Germany, and at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. In the coming months the quartet will be representing IU on a tour of Korea and performing as guest ensemble on NPR’s Performance Today. In addition to working with the Pacifica Quartet, they have been coached by Atar Arad, Mauricio Fuks, Alex Kerr, Peter Stumpf, Mark Steinberg, Richard Lester, Hsin-Yun Yang, Barry Shiffman, Joshua Bell, Martin Beaver, and Ani Kavafian.

What is the Pipa?
by Wu Man

The pipa is a lute-like instrument with a history of more than two thousand years. During the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 B.C. – 220 A.D.), instruments with long, straight-necks and round resonators with snake skin or wooden sound boards were played with a forward and backward plucking motion that sounded like “pi” and “pa” to fanciful ears. Hence, all plucked instruments in ancient times were called “pipa”. During the Tang dynasty, by way of Centre Asia, the introduction of a crooked neck lute with a pear-shaped body contributed to the pipa’s evolution. Today’s instrument consists of twenty-six frets and six ledges arranged as stops and its four strings are tuned respectively to A,D,E,A. The pipa’s many left and right hand fingering techniques, rich tonal qualities and resonant timber give its music expressiveness and beauty that are lasting and endearing.

Program Notes
Tian Ling (Nature and Spirit) for pipa and fourteen players (1992)
by Zhou Long
Tian Ling (Nature and Spirit) for pipa and fourteen players was commissioned and premiered by the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble and the virtuoso pipa soloist Wu Man on the occasion of Music Lives!, the 1992 Pittsburgh International Music Festival, and won the first prize of Barlow International Competition in 1994. The idea of this piece is based on ancient Chinese thought—the solo Chinese lute pipa represents the spirit, while the ensemble represents nature. At times the interaction of the soloist and the ensemble resembles that in a traditional Western concerto. 

Dance of the Yi  People (1960)
WANG Huiran

This is one of the signature pieces in the repertoire of Wu Man.  Wang arranged this wonderful piece in 1960 based on folk tunes of the Yi minority people, who live in southwestern China.  However, the piece did not gain popularity during the Cultural Revolution (1966 to 1976) because the music evokes intoxicating nights on a mountainside and the joyous gathering of young people with lively dancing, and has nothing to do with the “Red Revolution”, which was necessary to be approved by censors at the time.   Wu Man selected this piece for her audition for the Beijing Conservatory in 1978 and won first place.  Her performance of the piece was recorded and broadcast throughout the nation.  Since then, it has become one of the most popular pieces in the pipa repertoire.  This is the first pipa composition to incorporate the Western A-B-A structure, adopt Western chords and guitar techniques, and display virtuoso pipa techniques such as tremolos, strumming, sliding notes and harmonics.

Küi (Kazakh Traditional)
Traditional (arr.  Wu Man)

Wu Man made this arrangement for pipa of a Kazakh folk tune that she heard performed on the dombÿra, the two-stringed plucked lute that is widely regarded as a cultural symbol of Kazakhs. Kazakhstan shares a long border with western China, and nomadic Kazakhs have long represented an ethnic minority in China’s Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region.  In Xinjiang, Kazakhs speak their own language and maintain their own musical traditions. The pipa is believed to have entered China long ago through contact between Chinese civilization and the peoples that ancient Chinese sources described as “northern barbarians,” which is to say, nomads. By performing this virtuosic nomadic melody on the pipa, Wu Man brings her instrument full circle, back to its Central Asian origins. 

Shi Mian Mai Fu (Ambush Laid on Ten Sides)
Traditional (Martial) 

Perhaps the best known of all traditional Pipa works.  It is a grand opus of the “martial” school of pipa music.  Structured in traditional storytelling form, Shi Mian Mai Fu portrays the epic battle between the kingdoms of Han (Liu Bang) and the warlord of Chu (Xiang Yu) in 202 B.C.  The Han army ambushed the Chu army on ten sides and finally defeated the powerful Chu (Xiang Yu committed suicide), leading to the establishment of the Han Dynasty.  The music describes how the armies set up camp, effected the ambush and fought fiercely.  In it can be heard the war drums, booming guns, soldiers and horses, and the shouting of soldiers at the massacre.  The victors return to camp in triumph at the end of a tiring battle.  Variations on a theme make use of tonal colors and timbres created by various fingering techniques to evoke a range of moods, heroism, stoicism, despair, and tragedy.




March 31, 2017
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm EDT


Buskirk-Chumley Theater
114 E. Kirkwood
Bloomington, 47408 United States
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Lotus Education & Arts Foundation
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