This month, Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year – Wu Man ??– gives the world premiere performances of a new pipa concerto by Chinese composer Zhao Jiping, accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.
In this video, Wu Man talks about the new composition and demonstrates the exotic sounds of the pipa.
Audiences have heard her perform concertos by Lou Harrison and Tan Dun, both of which she has recorded (the Harrison twice).
New-music fans run into her regularly as a frequent collaborator with the Kronos Quartet, as a soloist at the annual Bang on a Can marathons, and as a member of chamber groups and orchestras giving the premieres of scores 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. When Glass’s friends invited his favorite musicians to perform at an invitation-only concert at New York’s Le Poisson Rouge to celebrate the composer’s 75th birthday, in January 2012, Wu Man was among the players on the stage.
And I played a couple of concerts with her in the 80s – she was a wonderful player then, with a broad musical knowledge and inquisitiveness.