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Wu Man plays in Auckland Arts Festival

8 November, 2012

Wu Man Named 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year
The Chinese pipa virtuoso plays two exclusive performances in Auckland Arts Festival 2013

Saturday 9 March, 2013
The Civic, Auckland

Sunday 10 March, 2013
Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall

Wu Man is the very model of a modern soloist. More importantly, her work is part of a big step in the evolution of Western classical music. The best measure of her achievement is that her instrument, the pipa – a Chinese lute that dates back some 2,000 years – is no longer an exotic curiosity. Symphony audiences have heard her perform concertos by Lou Harrison and Tan Dun. She performs regularly with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, as a soloist in Bang on a Can marathons, and in chamber groups and orchestras giving the premieres of works by Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Chen Yi, and Bright Sheng, who have written pipa parts into their works with her sound and dexterity in mind. - Musical America

Wu Man, the intrepid pipa player, Grammy Award winner and one-woman force of nature who is coming to Auckland Arts Festival 2013, has been named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year. Wu Man is performing in two special events at Auckland Arts Festival 2013 – A Chinese Home and Ghost Opera with the renowned Kronos Quartet on Saturday 9 March, and a solo performance on Sunday 10 March. Tickets are on sale now through THE EDGE.

Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director, Carla van Zon, said, “We are absolutely delighted Wu Man has been honoured by Musical America, one of the world’s leading music publications. She’s highly talented, fearless and thrilling to watch. On top of that, she plays an instrument many people have never heard of in a completely modern way, leaving audiences buzzing.”

With her Chinese lute, which she traverses with the mastery of Hendrix on a guitar, and a repertoire that ranges from bluegrass to Beijing opera, Wu Man has spent the last 20 years seeking out ways to introduce the pipa and Chinese musical culture to audiences in the West. Her many projects and collaborations aim to unite the pipa with a variety of western instruments and art forms, presenting the instrument to audiences in a way they can understand and enjoy in an accessible context. Wu Man has been cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western World.”

In her Auckland Arts Festival 2013 solo performance Wu Man will perform selections from her 2010 recording Immeasurable Light and her most recent album, released in 2012, Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians from the Silk Route. This one-off recital will trace Wu Man’s deeply personal journey into how the pipa’s story has shaped her own. Following her solo performance, Wu Man will host a free post-show talk in the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber.

Then, for one night only at The Civic, Wu Man and the world-renowned Kronos Quartet will travel into new musical territory with two momentous works, A Chinese Home and Ghost Opera.

A Chinese Home is an edgy performance for string quartet and pipa that was conceived by Wu Man, Kronos’ David Harrington and leading theatre director Chen Shi-Zheng (Dark Matter, The Peony Pavilion, Monkey: Journey to the West). Tracking a history of 100 years of Chinese music history from traditional China, to the western-influenced Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s, through the Cultural Revolution and into today, this exciting musical journey comes to life both on the stage and screen.

The other-worldly Ghost Opera, the second installation in the Kronos Quartet and Wu Man performance, incorporates Chinese, American, Tibetan, and English cultures, played on violin, viola, cello and pipa as well as water, metal, stone and paper. Also utilising innovative projections, Bach and Shakespeare are fused with Chinese shadow puppetry and ancient folklore. Ghost Opera was composed by Tan Dun, whose prolific career includes an Academy Award for his soundtrack to the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man has performed with major orchestras around the world, and collaborated with some of the world’s leading composers, including Philip Glass, Tan Dun and Terry Riley, and performers the Silk Road Ensemble, Yo-Yo Ma and, of course, the Kronos Quartet.

Wu Man is one of the rare musicians who has changed the history of the instrument she plays. - Boston Globe

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