Hunt­ing­ton li­brary hosts Wu Man’s fi­nal con­cert

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By CINDY LIU in Los Angeles

She is rec­og­nized for her distin­guished ca­reer as one of the world’s vir­tu­osos of the pipa, a mu­si­cal in­stru­ment with a his­tory of over 2,000 years in China, as well as a leading am­bas­sador of Chi­nese mu­sic.

On Tues­day, Wu Man, pre­sented her fi­nal con­cert in a se­ries as the first mu­si­cianin-res­i­dence at the Hunt­ing­ton Li­brary, Art Col­lec­tions, and Botan­i­cal Gar­dens of San Marino, Cal­i­for­nia.

Wu per­formed her com­po­si­tion com­mis­sioned by the Hunt­ing­ton — Three Shar­ing, a col­lab­o­ra­tive piece fea­tur­ing the Chi­nese pipa, Korean Jang-Go drum, and Ja­panese Shakuhachi in­stru­ments.

In ad­di­tion to Wu on the pipa, Jang-Go drum­ming was per­formed by Dong-Won Kim, a Korean mu­si­cian, and Shakuhachi, was per­formed by Ko­jiro Umezaki, a Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Irvine pro­fes­sor who grew up in Tokyo in an Asian-Euro­pean fam­ily.

Wu plays what is of­ten re­ferred to as the “Chi­nese lute,” a pear-shaped wooden in­stru­ment com­posed of four strings and from 12-26 frets. The Grammy Award-nom­i­nated mu­si­cian has carved out a ca­reer as a soloist, ed­u­ca­tor, and com­poser giv­ing the pipa a new role in both tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary mu­sic.

Wu told China Daily af­ter the con­cert: “China, Korea and Ja­pan share so many things in com­mon in their cul­tures. How­ever, each of the three in­stru­ments has its own lan­guage. We all keep our own tra­di­tions in this work.”

In Three Shar­ing, pipa kept its orig­i­nal way of ex­pres­sion and had no par­tic­i­pa­tion in the cho­rus like other in­ter­na­tional mu­si­cians might want to do. Shakuhachi had a lit­tle rhythm — some­how in­di­cat­ing a Chi­nese mu­sic style, but kept its Ja­panese tra­di­tion, es­pe­cially when those melodic or­na­ments and dec­o­ra­tive notes were played.

“With mu­sic we re­flect what comes from our own heart. I be­lieve what’s unique for a na­tion is also pre­cious for the world,” said Wu.

A na­tive of Hangzhou, China, Wu has been liv­ing in the United States for 20 years. She stud­ied at the Cen­tral Con­ser­va­tory of Mu­sic in Bei­jing, where she was the first per­son to re­ceive a mas­ter’s de­gree in the pipa. Wu’s ef­forts were rec­og­nized when she was named Mu­si­cal Amer­ica’s 2013 In­stru­men­tal­ist of the Year, the first time the pres­ti­gious award has been be­stowed on a player of a non-Western in­stru­ment

“This pro­gram is geared to­ward help­ing to cre­ate an un­der­stand­ing of Chi­nese cul­ture through the vis­ual and per­form­ing arts, and who bet­ter to lead the way than Wu Man,” said Chi­nese Gar­den Cu­ra­tor June Li. “She not only cares about tra­di­tional Chi­nese mu­sic, but also how that mu­sic can be made rel­e­vant to our con­tem­po­rary world.”

The con­cert was held in Liu Fang Yuan, the Gar­den of Flow­ing Fra­grance, which is con­sid­ered one of the big­gest Chi­nese Gar­dens out­side of China. It pairs botan­i­cal, lit­er­a­ture and art by com­bin­ing the scenic beauty of na­ture with the ex­pres­sive­ness of the arts to give deeper mean­ing to the land­scape.

The vis­it­ing artist pro­gram is en­dowed by the Pasaden­abased Cheng Fam­ily Foun­da­tion. Suzy Moser, as­so­ciate vice-pres­i­dent for ad­vance­ment, ex­pressed her great thanks to Chi­nese do­na­tors who sup­ported con­struc­tion of the Chi­nese gar­den’s con­struc­tion.

“I am so proud of such a vast and gen­er­ous Chi­nese com­mu­nity we have here around us. I am priv­i­leged to work with the Chi­nese com­mu­nity who de­vote them­selves to build­ing such a great phi­lan­thropy,” she said .

CINDY LIU / CHINA DAILY

Wu Man (cen­ter), the world’s pre­mier Chi­nese pipa player, per­formed on stage to­gether with Ja­panese shakuhachi mu­si­cian Ko­jiro Umezaki (left), and Korean drum Jang-Go mu­si­cian Dong-Won Kim (right) at Chi­nese Gar­den Liu Fang Yuan in the Hungt­ing­ton Li­brary on June 17.

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