BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The Indiana University Arts and Humanities Council is partnering with Lotus Education and Arts Foundation to bring internationally recognized pipa virtuoso Wu Man to Bloomington as part of the inaugural Global Arts and Humanities Festival, “China Remixed.” Her educational outreach programming and performances begin March 27 and culminate in a free public concert at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on March 31.
Recognized as the world’s premier pipa player and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Grammy Award winner Wu Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator and composer to give her 2,000-year-old lute-like instrument a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Her weeklong Bloomington residency gifts the community with widespread opportunities to engage with Wu Man and learn more about Chinese culture and music through performances at regional K-12 schools, outreach programming with IU students and faculty, and a free public concert in which Wu Man performs alongside the Jacobs’ Vera Quartet and New Music Ensemble.
“China Remixed” is headed by the Indiana University Arts and Humanities Council under the Office of the Provost, with a goal to highlight the most diverse and dynamic aspects of the contemporary Chinese culture from China’s mainland to Taiwan, Hong Kong and America. “China Remixed” reflects all the ways that arts and humanities of China impact IU and vice versa. The 10-week themed program runs from January to April and features music, dance, scholars, journalists, classic plays, art and video exhibits, films, a weekly speaker series and more.
Wu Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines, allowing her to reach wider audiences as she works to break through cultural and musical borders. Wu Man’s efforts were recognized when she was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, marking the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.
As a principal musician in Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project, Wu Man has performed throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia with the Silk Road Ensemble and recently shared a 2017 Grammy Award for Best World Music Album for “Sing Me Home,” the companion CD to the Silk Road Ensemble’s Grammy-nominated documentary “Music of Strangers.”
Adamant that the pipa not become marginalized as only appropriate for Chinese music, Wu Man strives to develop a place for the pipa in all art forms. Projects she has initiated have resulted in the pipa finding a place in new solo and quartet works, concertos, opera, chamber, electronic and jazz music, as well as in theater productions, film, dance and collaborations with visual artists including calligraphers and painters. Wu Man boasts a discography of over 40 albums, including “Traditions and Transformations: Sounds of Silk Road Chicago,” which features her Grammy Award–nominated performance of Lou Harrison’s Pipa Concerto with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.