Pipa, composer (China) Renowned internationally as a virtuosic pipa performer, Wu Man has also carved out a career creating and collaborating on projects that give this ancient Chinese instrument a new role in today’s music world, not only introducing the instrument to new audiences, but greatly enhancing and growing the core repertoire.
Cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western World”, Wu Man continually collaborates with some of the most distinguished musicians and conductors performing today. She is a principal member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project and performs internationally as part of the Project’s Silk Road Ensemble. Wu Man also frequently performs and records with the groundbreaking Kronos Quartet.
Wu Man will begin the 2010-11 season with performances in Mexico as part of the Philip Glass Ensemble, performing Orion, a seven-movement collaboration with Glass and five other world musicians. In February 2011, Wu Man will perform as soloist with the Taipei Chinese Orchestra in three concerts. The Taipei Chinese Orchestra musicians all perform with traditional Chinese instruments. Wu Man will perform a pipa concerto, The Yang’s Saga, by composer Yiu-Kwong Chung with the orchestra.
Last year Wu Man curated two concerts at Carnegie Hall as part of the ‘Ancient Paths, Modern Voices’ festival celebrating Chinese culture. Her travels in China to find the musicians were documented in a film, Discovering a Musical Heartland – Wu Man’s Return to China. In November 2009 Wu Man and the Kronos Quartet presented the world premiere of A Chinese Home, directed by Chen Shi-Zheng. In addition to playing the pipa, Wu Man sings, acts and plays percussion when performing this piece.
Wu Man has performed as soloist with many of the world’s major orchestras and her touring has taken her to the major music halls. A Grammy-nominated artist, Wu Man will release a new solo recording of early pipa works from the eighth to 12th centuries and new compositions, called Immeasurable Light, in September 2010 on Traditional Crossroads.
Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master's degree in pipa. When in China, Wu Man received first prize in the first National Music Performance Competition, among other awards. She also participated in many groundbreaking premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers.
Wu Man currently lives in Carlsbad, CA. She formerly lived in Boston for 12 years, where she was selected as a Bunting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study at Harvard University. Wu Man was selected by Yo-Yo Ma as the winner of the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protégé Prize in music and communication. She is also the first artist from China to have performed at the White House.
Wu Man appears on the Silk Road Ensemble's albums When Strangers Meet, Beyond the Horizon, New Impossibilities and Off the Map.