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. She was the first Chinese traditional musician to receive The United States Artist Fellowship in 2008 and was awarded the Bunting Fellowship at Harvard University in 1998. She is the first artist from China to perform at the White House. Her discography of more than 40 albums includes the Grammy-nominated recordings Our World in Song, Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of the Silk Road Chicago, her recording of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists, and You’ve Stolen My Heart featuring Wu Man and the Kronos Quartet. Wu Man frequently collaborates with the Kronos and Shanghai Quartets, the Knights, and the Silk Road Ensemble (SRE). She is a featured artist in the documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble in theaters now, as well as on the companion recording, Sing Me Home, released by Sony in April 2016.
Highlights of Wu Man’s 2016-17 season include the world premiere of a new pipa concerto by Canadian composer Vincent Ho with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra conducted by Long Yu and performances of Tan Dun’s Pipa Concerto with the NCPA Orchestra, Reno Chamber Orchestra, and Sinfonieorchester Aachen. She is joined by the Shanghai Quartet for the New York premiere of Zhao Jiping’s multimedia work Red Lantern on a program that includes music by Bright Sheng, Ye Xiaogang, and Zhou Long, presented by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; returns to Wigmore Hall to perform with frequent collaborator singer Sanubar Tursen in Basel Rajoub’s Soriano Project that celebrates the musical heritage of diverse artists as part of the Aga Khan Music Initiative, and tours Europe as soloist with The Knights.
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.
Follow Wu Man on Facebook and Twitter @wumanpipa
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