World-class Chinese pipa (lute) player and composer Gao Hong, 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.
The premiere will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 6, 2014, at Lake Harriet Bandshell, 4135 West Lake Harriet Parkway in Minneapolis. Subsequent performances will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, July 7 at Nicollet Island Pavilion, 40 Power Street, Minneapolis; and at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 10 at Humboldt-Cerenity Senior Care, 514 Humboldt Avenue, St. Paul. All concerts are free and open to the public.
Hong is currently a lecturer in Chinese Instruments at Carleton College where she also directs the Chinese Music Ensemble. She is also a guest professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.
Green Willow Tree begins with Gao Hong’s childhood name, Yang Liuqin, “楊柳青” which in English means “green willow tree”. Her name was changed to Gao Hong after her parents divorced in an attempt to spare their children the harsh consequences of the Cultural Revolution.
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.
This is Hong’s second concerto, the first being Flying Dragon Concerto. Both were inspired by the unusual twists and turns her life has taken.
“In this piece I use my childhood memories of growing up during the Cultural Revolution as inspiration,” she said. “The pipa represents me as a child, while the violin represents me as I am now. I combine these diverse instruments from east and 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 Hong’s mixed feelings from attempting to put together the pieces of her life’s puzzle. The second movement express the homesickness and isolation for her homeland.
“I explore both sweet and bitter memories from my life in China,” she said. “In the final movement, the violin expresses the new feeling of hope and beauty that I’ve found in America.
In both China and the U.S. Hong has received numerous top awards and honors including first place 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.
Hong 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. 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.
Hong is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation by the Minnesota Legislature; and by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
For information call 952-210-3628 or visit www.mplspops.org and www.chinesepipa.com.