Friday, September 26, 2008

Xiaohui Ma

Xiaohui Ma an erhu player and composer from Shanghai, China. She is one China's few first-class traditional artists embracing an international career. Critics have referred to her as "an artist who speaks with the world through Erhu" and "a musician who plays with heart."

Ma is perhaps most readily recognized for her duet with famed cellist Yo-Yo Ma on the Oscar -winning soundtrack for the film ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon''. The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts regarded her 1999 Millennium Stage performance among that year's ten finest concerts.

Raised in an academic family and having played erhu since age six, Ma graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, and served as concert master for the Shanghai Traditional Orchestra before commencing her independent career. Among her diverse associations, Miss Ma is a member of the United Nations Oriental Art Center, guest professor at Southwest Jiaotong University , love envoy of the 2007 World Special Olympics, and Cultural Ambassador to the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai. She also advises the Hong Kong Youth Music Association and the Ningbo Folk Music Orchestra, as well as directing her own Shanghai Xiaohui Art Center.


Equally at home on television or stage, Xiaohui Ma toured extensively across Europe, Asia and the Americas since the late 1990s, appearing with noted orchestras in more than one hundred concerts in additional to presenting several-fold more lectures. European appearances have included the Berlin Chamber Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the French National Symphony Orchestra, Switzerland's Symphony Orchestra St. Gallen, and the Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra . Many of her recitals featured her global "Erhu Dialogues," a musical conversation encompassing Oriental and Western civilization. Notable recent European performances include a recital for the , along with Chinese President Hu Jintao, followed by a concert for the King of Finland .

In North America her programs include performances with conductor David Stern at Colorado's Crested Butte Music Festival and the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra of Washington, DC , as well as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and at Mt. Vernon for the White House Historical Society . She also appeared at the United Nations, at New York Philharmonic conductor Lorin Maazel's Castleton Theater , with the Mexican National Symphony Orchestra, and at an internationally televised program at the famed Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California. In 2008 Miss Ma performed in New York City for her debut at the Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall.

In Asia, Xiaohui Ma has performed with the National Symphony Orchestra of China, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Japan's NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore National Symphony, and at Classical Concert Hall in Seoul, Korea, among others. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's Shanghai African summit in Shanghai presented Miss Ma's artistry to African heads of state and she earlier represented China at Bravo China in Athens, Greece and as lead musician for the APEC meeting in Shanghai . Miss Ma is often seen in television music specials on Chinese CCTV and Chinese MTV.

Appearing in over 40 CDs, Xiaohui Ma has also composed numerous pieces, including her major works "The Spirit of My Erhu" and "The Story of Two Strings" . Among her significant adaptations of Western and Chinese classical compositions are Béla Bartók's "Romanian Folk Dances," Johann Sebastian Bach's "Inventions II" and Sonatas, Fritz Kreisler's "Liebesleid" and the Ping Tan Opera "Call Mother in the Nunnery." World premieres include "Wailing Waters," "Chant & Allegro," "Maiden Lan Hua-Hua," "Genghis Khan," "The Shepherd Girl," "Hard to Say Good-Bye," "Night Color in the Desert" and "Deep at Night."

A respected music scholar, she has also lectured at dozens of world universities, including Notre Dame University, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, Pomona College, Fudan University, and Jiaotong University. In 2007, Azusa Pacific University hosted her as World Music Scholar-in-Residence, and she conducted a concert at Scripps College in collaboration with Claremont Graduate University's transdisciplinary course "Shanghai Rising."


Xiaohui Ma has redefined the erhu, elevating it to a fine classical standing, stretching her ancient, versatile instrument's boundaries with new tone colors and techniques. The German ''Saale'' newspaper recognized this: "Miss Ma is a brilliant interpreter, mastering virtuously all possibilities of her tender instrument and playing her truly personal interpretation with enormous humor and refinement . . . in which she could show, once again, her breathtaking virtuosity." ''Shanghai Grand Theatre Magazine'' noted she "demonstrates her continuous creativity and truthfulness to her own personality, touching, through her music, the entire audience." The ''South Bend Tribune'' added: "Ma Xiaohui's Erhu is able to evoke not just traditional Chinese musical themes—the twitter of bird song or the distinct cadence and intonation of Chinese speech—but the emotional variety of Western music as well. She strives to span cultural divides and emphasizes the universality of music."

Diverse Europeans critics particularly praise China's rare flower in the garden of traditional music. ''Nuremberg Daily'' said, "Erhu, an ordinary instrument in appearance, gains an incredible strength through the interpretation of Ma Xiaohui." ''Munich Times'' said "with nimble virtuosity… that we fully believed again in music as a universal language." ''Oxford Times'' agreed that "she drew a kind of alto human voice bereft of words," and her playing "sounds so culture-free and universal, that Ma Xiaohui's gift, and vibrant musicality, shone out on us like light." The Swiss press wrote that one is "almost startled by the powerful sound of the instrument that reminds of a human voice and how this is able to express itself emotionally." Germany's ''Donaukurier'' captured the artist‘s essence: "Ma Xiaohui proved to be a magnificent Erhu player who, as if by magic, produced out of the two strings fantastic sound effects. The fantastic virtuosity and musicality of the soloist unified the poetic imitations of singing birds, subtly drawn and melodious bows, elegiac songs, and comedian dialogues…the disparate elements drawn from the Chinese tradition and the western modernity were blended into a unity through the intensive creative power of the artist."

Awards and recognition

? 2005—"Erhu with Piano" Dialogue, Top Ten Ensembles, Grand Theatre, Shanghai

? 2003—Outstanding Women Music Trio, Shanghai International Music Festival

? 2001—Top Prize, First Shanghai International Spring Music Festival

? 2000—Featured in duet with Yo-yo Ma on Oscar-winning film soundtrack for ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'', composed by Tan Dun

? 1999—Ten Best Concerts at the Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

? 1999—Shanghai Bao Gang Award for Ten Best Artists

? 1998—International Outstanding Woman Nomination, International British Cambridge Biographical Center

? 1998—Life Achievement Award and Cultural Missionary Award, American Biographical Research Institute

? 1998—Great Artist, Shanghai International Spring Music Festival

? 1995—Shanghai Bao Gang Award for Ten Best Artists

? 1993—First Shanghai Most Excellent Young Performing Artist Award nomination

? 1993—New Work Performance Award, 15th Music Spring Festival of Shanghai & Top Ten Excellent Youth Musical Performer nomination

? 1987—Top Prize, National Guangdong Music Competition


Appearing in more than 40 CDs, Xiaohui Ma is featured as principal in over 20 CDs and has appeared in numerous television interviews discussing her CDs and music. Some of Ma's critically acclaimed CDs and DVDs include:

? ''Erhu Around the World'' , Slav, Shanghai

? ''Spirit of My Erhu—Ma Xiaohui Special Features No. 1'', Slav, Shanghai

? ''Four Seasons of Erhu—Romance'', Ma Xiaohui Special Features No. 2, Slav, Shanghai

? ''New Colors from China'' , Deutsche Welle, Germany

? ''Deep Night'', Bailey Record Co. Ltd, Hong Kong

? ''Hua'', King Record Co., Tokyo

? ''Petite Fleur'', King Record Co., Tokyo

? ''Birds Singing in Lonesome Mountains'' , Cordaria, Hannover, Germany

? ''The Spirit of My Erhu'', Polygram Far East, Hong Kong

? ''On the Grasslands'', Hay Ung Music, Shanghai

Liu Tianhua

Liu Tianhua or Liu T'ien-hua, Pinyin: Liú Tiānhuá, was a Chinese musician and a composer best known for his reformative work for the ''erhu'' .

Students of Liu who continued to contribute to the development of the ''erhu'' include Jiang Fengzhi and Chen Zhenduo.

Compositions for erhu

Title in pinyin year

* Bìng Zhōng Yīn 1918
* Yuè Yè 1924
* Kǔ Mèn Zhī ?u 1926
* Bēi Gē 1927
* Liáng Xiāo 1928
* Xián Jū Yīn 1928
* Kòng Shān Niǎo Yǔ 1928
* Guāng Míng Xíng 1931
* Dú Xián Cāo 1932
* Zhú Y?ng Yáo Hóng 1932

Studies for Erhu No 1 - 47

Compositions for pipa

* gē w? yǐn
* gǎi jìn cāo
* xū lài

Lei Qiang

Lei Qiang is a professional erhu musician. Born in 1960 Shaanxi province in the People's Republic of China, Lei began to play the erhu in 1975. After studying at the prestigious Xian Conservatory of Music, he toured with the Shaanxi Provincial Song and Dance Troupe for 11 years across Asia. In 1993, Lei settled in Canada, where he has recorded with several renowned musical acts, including Cirque du Soleil as well as his own solo albums on Oliver Sudden Productions. Lei has also performed at numerous music festivals and cultural events throughout North America.


* "Erhu Music" by Lei Qiang Oliver Sudden Productions Inc. 1993.
* "Chinese Traditional Erhu Music vol 1" by Lei Qiang Oliver Sudden Productions Inc. 1995.
* "Le chanteur masqué" by Robert Charlebois 1996.
* "Plein L'dos" by Gildor Roy Disques Passeport 1996.
* "Défaire L'amour" by Bruno Pelletier, MUSICOR 1996.
* "Quidam" by Cirque du Soleil / BMG 1997
* "Chinese Traditional Erhu Music vol 2" by Lei Qiang Oliver Sudden Productions Inc. 1998.
* "O" by Cirque du Soleil / BMG 1998
* "Music from the Tea Lands" / Putumayo World Music 2000
* "Asian Dreamland" Putumayo World Music 2006

Jiebing Chen

Jiebing Chen is a Chinese musician based in the United States specializing in the erhu .

Born in Shanghai, China, Chen went to the United States in 1989 to study at the , where she received an M.A. in music theory.

In addition to her work performing Chinese traditional and contemporary music, Chen has also participated in a number of cross-cultural collaborations, including recordings and performances with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Béla Fleck, and James Newton. She has also performed jazz with the Jon Jang Sextet and the Beijing Trio . Her recording ''Tabula Rasa'' was nominated for a Grammy Award.

She lives in California.


*1999 - ''L. Subramaniam: Violin From the Heart''. Directed by Jean Henri Meunier.



He Tian Hao

He Tian Hao , was a famous ''erhu'' player during the Qing Dynasty. He was born in Taipei, Taiwan and at a young age loved to listen music, especially the sound of the ''erhu''. Despite his parents' encouragement to start learning, his family was in a state of poverty and was unable to raise the funds needed to purchase the instrument.

Eight years later, he and his family moved to a small town not far from Lanzhou, in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu. There he attended the village school in which the music teacher saw profound talent in playing the ''erhu''. He later acquired his own ''erhu'' and played for crowds every weekend in Lanzhou.

One day he met a young girl by the name of Wen Pei Xin who liked to write and paint. She was very captivated with the music he played and soon began to see him every week.

When he was 15, he met her again by a chance of fate. They quickly fell in love with each other. They spent days with each other in the village's meadows. He enjoyed playing the ''erhu'' for her and she would often write and paint to the sound of his music.

Ten years after they met, Pei Xin and Tian Hao wedded and lived the rest of their lives together.

George Gao

George Gao is a -born erhu player and composer.


George Gao was born in 1967, in Shanghai, . Gao began studying the erhu at the age of six. In 1982, he won First Prize at the Shanghai Junior Instrumental Soloist Competition and a Silver Medal at the China National Junior Instrumental Soloist Contest. His performance skill exempted him from high school exit exams, and he entered the Shanghai Conservatory of Music. During his stay, he participated in a program to broadcast Chinese language radio from North America. He finished his Bachelor of Arts degree, and graduated in 1988 with honors. He was the first student ever promoted one year early from that school. After graduation, he was invited to the International Orchestra as a solo artist. He founded the pop bands ''Red Maple Leaf'' and ''Snowman'' in Beijing. In 1989, he was invited to North Korea to host the World Youth Festival and the Arts diploma. He also established the Inner Pulse pop band during that year. Two years later, he became the first erhu instructor at the school, established the first erhu syllabus, and organized the first large erhu concert in Canada.
He tours the world frequently, performing in entertainment centers such as the United States, Canada, France, Japan, and China.Gao has performed with multiple orchestras as a soloist, including the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Edmonton Symphony Orchestra, and I Musici de Montréal Chamber Orchestra. His most notable work is on the Emmy Award-nominated soundtrack of the television series ''''. He has also performed with the Canada-based violin group Bowfire.

Gao is presently still the erhu instructor at the Royal Conservatory of Music. He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife, Jenny Zhang.
* ''Yellow Wedding''
* ''Chinese Chocolate''

Original Compositions

* ''Capriccio for Erhu''
* ''Song of a traveler''
* ''After the rain''
* ''Birds in a foreign land''
* ''Heaven on Earth''


Gao transposed many pieces into concert works for the erhu. Many of his adaptations successfully convey the same virtuosity displayed in the original versions, while adapting for the erhu, an instrument not accustomed to Western classical music. For example, one of the disadvantages the erhu has is only two strings, as opposed to the four-stringed violin. The player must reach an extended amount of notes on a single string to make up for this difference.
* Pablo Sarasate – ''Carmen Fantasy'', ''Zigeunerweisen''
* – ''Meditation from Thais''
* – ''The Swan''
* – Gounod ''Avi Maria''
* – ''Moto perpetuo''
* And others.

Francis Wong

Francis Wong is an jazz , , and ''erhu'' player.

Of descent, Wong specializes in the fusion of free jazz and Asian musics, and is a central member in the Asian American jazz movement. His distinctive saxophone playing incorporates very high, shrill notes amidst much squeaking. He has worked with Glenn Horiuchi, Jon Jang, John Tchicai, James Newton, Cecil Taylor, Anthony Brown, and Liu Qi-Chao. He has recorded for the Asian Improv label.

Wong lives in San Francisco, California.