AS an active US-based Chinese musician, pipa musician Wu Man has successfully promoted the traditional Chinese instrument to the West world in the past 30 years. This Saturday, she will present the beauty of the instrument to audiences at Shanghai Symphony Hall.
Together with Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and conductor Shui Lan, Wu will present Anatol Liadov’s “The Enchanted Lake,” Ye Xiaogang’s “Pipa Concerto” and Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Daydreams.”
“I like Ye’s work much, as you can always get a taste of Shanghai in the beautiful melodies,” said Wu.
Starting to play the instrument since nine, Wu’s received professional education in conservatories of music and her talent has been widely recognized in China. Yet, the young musician decided to start her adventure in the US in 1990.
“I don’t like a settled life which I can see through the end. Just like my name man, which means unreasoning in some context in Chinese, I like adventures,” said Wu, “So, I took off.”
When Wu first landed in New York, she was quickly amazed by the melting pot with all kinds of musicians and artists open to share and present, even though hardly anybody there knows the instrument in her hand.
“It was such a paradise for me. I learned from the musicians around as a sponge for water, and I painted on a virgin paper with my pipa and music,” said Wu.
In the past 30 years, Wu has striven to develop a place for pipa in all art forms, such as new solo, quartet, concerto, opera, chamber, electronic and jazz as well as in theater productions like film, dance and collaborations with visual artists.
She is a principal member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and performs regularly throughout the US, Europe and Asia as part of the project’s ensemble.
Apart from introducing the instrument to new audiences, Wu also commissioned and premiered over a hundred new works as part of her core repertoire. Some of them were composed by western musicians.
“I don’t see barriers for western musicians to compose for pipa as long as they are clear about its voice and features. Rather, I kind of like such collaborations as they can often bring new ideas and concept of what the traditional Chinese instrument can do,” said Wu.
The profound love for Chinese music is the driving force for Wu to keep exploring possible ways to introduce the instrument worldwide. And she is, to some extent, satisfied with the so-far outcomes.
Right during her flight to Shanghai, a westerner who sat next to her called out “pipa” immediately when he saw Wu’s instrument box.
“He told me that he also kept one at his home,” said Wu.
Date: April 8, 8pm
Venue: Shanghai Symphony Hall
Address: 1380 Fuxing Rd.
Tickets: 80-580 yuan