Gao Hong, world-class pipa (lute) player and composer and director of the Carleton College Chinese Music Ensemble, will perform the world premiere her Green Willow Tree: Double Concerto for Pipa, Violin and Orchestra with the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Jere Lantz, on Sunday, July 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in Minneapolis. Additional performances will be held Monday, July 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Nicollet Island Pavilion and on Thursday, July 10 at 1 p.m. at the Humboldt-Cerenity Senior Care Center in St. Paul. All performances are free and open to the public.
Gao Hong describes the inspiration for this new composition: "My childhood name, Yang Liuqin, “楊柳青” in English means “green willow tree”. My name was changed to Gao Hong only after my parents divorced in an attempt to spare their children the harsh consequences of the Cultural Revolution. This is my second concerto, my first being Flying Dragon Concerto. Both were inspired by the unusual twists and turns my life has taken. In this piece I use my childhood memories of growing up during the Cultural Revolution as inspiration. The pipa represents me as a child, while the violin represents me as I am now. I combine these diverse instruments from east & west cultures, because both regions and cultures have had a great impact on my life and well-being. The concerto is in three movements played without pauses. The first movement introduces my mixed feelings as I try to put together the pieces of my life’s puzzle. I use the second movement to express my homesickness and isolation from my homeland, as I explore both sweet and bitter memories from my life in China. In the final movement, the violin expresses the new feeling of hope & beauty that I’ve found in America."
Pipa master and composer Gao Hong began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing, where she studied with the great Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S. Gao Hong has received numerous top awards and honors. She is the only musician in any genre to win four McKnight Fellowships for Performing Musicians and was the first musician to win a Bush Fellowship for Traditional and Folk Arts. Other awards include 1st Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition, an International Art Cup in Beijing, a 2012 Global Music Award, and numerous grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board. 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. Her performances of pipa concerti include several world, U.S., and regional premieres and performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, Heidelberg (Germany) Philharmonic, Women’s Philharmonic (San Francisco), Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, Rochester Symphony, Portland Symphony, and others. She also recorded with the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic and toured worldwide with the Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.
As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala, Theater Mu, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Lars Hannibal, and Twin Cities Public TV, among others. She is currently Lecturer in Chinese Instruments at Carleton College where she also directs the Chinese Music Ensemble, and is a Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
For more information, contact International Friendship Through The Performing Arts at 952-210-3628 or visit online at www.chinesepipa.com.
The Lake Harriet Bandshell is located at 4135 West Lake Harriet Parkway in Minneapolis; the Nicollet Island Pavilion is located at 40 Power Street in Minneapolis; and the Humboldt-Cerenity Senior Care Center is located at 514 Humboldt Avenue in St. Paul.