Arts Calendar

Apr 24

Guest/Faculty Recital: Gao Hong & Issam Rafea

From site: Music Department Events

"Blending music and hearts from Syria and China"

Friday, April 24th, 2020
7:00 – 8:30 pm / Kracum Performance Hall

Gao Hong and Issam Rafea Duo will present Blending music and hearts from Syria and China.

Gao Hong and Issam RafeaSyrian oud master Issam Rafea and Chinese pipa master Gao Hong instantly bonded when first met. They immediately committed to recording and performing together. They began composing music on-the-spot that was so cohesive it seemed as if they had worked together for years. Both Issam and Gao Hong are wonderful composers; this helps each anticipate what the other will do in their spontaneous compositions.

Since they never rehearse or discuss what they will play in advance, no two performances are ever the same. Each concert is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and audiences witness singular creations that come to life before their very eyes and ears - but are never to be repeated again. In concerts, the Duo asks for titles from audience members and then creates instantaneous site-and audience-specific pieces based on the suggested titles.

Their music sounds both ancient and strikingly modern at the same time. The Duo has a fresh approach that results in music that is neither Chinese nor Arabic, but something only the two of them can create due to their unusually strong connection and great respect for each other’s artistry. And both believe that music needs to come from their souls and deepest feelings. The more they perform together the more deeply they connect and the more beautiful and vibrant their music becomes. During performances at the 25th Lotus Music Festival in Bloomington, Indiana, they saw their audience grow exponentially from concert to concert. Many who attended their first concert made it a point to attend all three of their events and brought others along with them. And each event ended with a standing ovation.

The Duo performs for people of all ages and backgrounds. They have appeared at colleges and universities, schools, a Somali Museum, a Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration, and live on TV shows and radio broadcasts.

In May of 2018 they released their debut CD Life As Is – the Blending of Ancient Souls from Syria and China. They have performed at Carleton College; St Paul College; The Cedar Cultural Center; Inn-Fest, and dozens of other performances throughout Minnesota. They were interviewed and featured on the MPR/NPR radio program All Things Considered; and on WCCO/CBS Radio’s Steele Talkin’ with host Jearlyn Steele. This newly formed duo was awarded a 2018 USArtists International Grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in the U.S.

Their first CD, Life As Is, made the first ballot for the 2019 Grammy Awards and was nominated for the Independent Music Award for Best Instrumental Album and Best World Beat Album. It has been broadcast and appeared on “top pick” lists worldwide, and was the #5 classical pick on Spotify for the week it was released. A second CD release is in the works.

This event is free, unticketed, and open to the public.

Sponsored by Music Department Events. Contact: Holly Streekstra, x4475