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New From Innova

New from Innova, Gao Hong Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream
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Innova tells us,Gao Hong is an acknowledged virtuoso of the Chinese pipa (pear-shaped lute), touring the world playing major works by Tan Dun, Zhou Long and others. But she is also a composer of distinction, elegantly weaving international styles into a tangy new cosmopolitan chamber music.

In addition to her captivatingly energetic playing, Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream– her first album devoted to her own compositions – features an all-star cast of international musicians from India, Japan, and the U.S. It’s a rich and profound journey that explores several autobiographical elements; from the death of friends to the joy of her own daughter’s triumph over leukemia.

The title track blends Chinese and Indian flavors in the form of a pipa-sitar duet where Gao Hong and superstar Shubhendra Rao playfully depict the healing powers of forests and streams. The hauntingly tender voice of Nirmala Rajasekar introduces Butterfly, dedicated to those who have brought beauty into our lives but left too soon.

Gao Hong’s passion for preserving her beloved Pudong style of pipa playing is marked by the world premiere recording of the comical Mother-in-Law Arguing with Daughter-in-Law, a piece lost for over a century that was recently reconstructed by Gao Hong’s mentor – the late pipa master, Lin Shicheng – and passed on to Gao Hong during her travels to Hong Kong and Beijing.

Gao Hong’s young daughter provided the inspiration for Courage thanks to her incredible will to live while undergoing (successful) treatment for leukemia over more than two years. In a similar tale of overcoming, Gao Hong’s own tale of emergence from the Cultural Revolution into a globe-trotting citizen is told in Flying Dragon Concerto.

The final track, Celebration, unites all the artists (along with taiko hero Kenny Endo) in a festive romp of polyglot vocal percussion; a suitable way to mark the various life journeys and reflect on 35 years of travel shared closely with a beloved instrument.”

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Gao Hung

From Gao Hung’s home page:

Gao Hong, a Chinese musical prodigy and master of the pear-shaped lute, the pipa, began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated with honors from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the great pipa master Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S. Gao has received numerous top awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and an International Art Cup in Beijing. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2008 she became the only musician in any genre to win three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians.

Gao Hong as Performer

Gao has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians, and musicians from other cultures. She has performed at many major festivals worldwide. Her performances have included those at the Lincoln Center Festival; Carnegie Hall; the San Francisco Jazz Festival; the Smithsonian Institute; the Next Wave Festival; Festival d’Automne a Paris in Paris and Caen, France; the International Festival of Perth, Australia; and the Festival de Teatro d’Europa in Milan, Italy. Her performances of pipa concerti with symphony orchestras include several world, U.S., and regional premieres and performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, Heidelberg (Germany) Philharmonic, the Women’s Philharmonic in San Francisco, the Portland (Maine) Symphony, and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra among others. In addition, she performed with the Lincoln Center production of “The Peony Pavilion.”

Gao Hong as Composer

As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, Theater Mu, IFTPA, and Twin Cities Public Television for the six-part series Made in China. Meet the Composer Inc. in New York City has awarded her two Creative Connections grants, two MetLife Creative Connections grants and a Global Connections grant.

In addition to Gao Hong’s own solo performances of her compositions worldwide, her music has been performed internationally by many world class musicians. In 2000, Song of the Pipa, a play based on Gao Hong’s life and the life of Chinese poet, Bai Juyi, received 20 performances by Theater Mu and featured live e musical accompaniment and new compositions by Gao Hong. In 2007 her first choral composition, The Coming of Spring was one of five pieces selected for a reading session by VocalEssence out of 128 applicants nationwide. Her new commissioned piece from Jerome Foundation Awakening was premiered by Gao Hong and Speaking in Tongues at Muziekgebouw aan het IJ in Amsterdam in March, 2007. In the same year she was also selected to participate in a composer’s workshop hosted by the new music ensemble, Zeitgeist, and premiered her new composition Courage – for pipa and percussion – with Present Music in Milwaukee. in 2008, to celebrate Gao Hong’s 35th anniversary of playing her instrument, 10 years as a composer. Hong composed a special pipa and sitar duet with guest artists Shubhendra Rao on sitar- a top disciple of Ravi Shankar – and rising young tabla star Biplab Bhattacharya. Three Gao Hong’s world premiere compositions performed by taiko drum master Kenny Endo, David Hagedorn, percussion, the cellist Michelle Kinney; Gao Hong on pipa; and Indian vocalist and veena player Nirmala Rajasekar in Ted Mann Hall and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall.”

The album, Innova #240 is available on CD at Innova, $15; in .mp3 $8.99 (search the title in .mp3, there is right now no link on the CD page).

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