Acclaimed Chinese pipa virtuoso Wu Man, known for her collaborations with cellist Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, Philip Glass and many of the world’s great orchestras, here joins forces with musicians from Uganda, Ukraine and the southern Appalachian mountains, an unlikely convergence from disparate corners of the globe that infuses some of the most beloved traditional melodies from these regions with intimate counterpoint and a sparkling energy. A series of lyrical dialogues between the pipa and the banjo, Ukrainian bandura and Ugandan endongo, Wu Man & Friends celebrates the affinity and variety of the world’s plucked instruments.
banjo, dulcimer, mouth bow, voice
bandura, sopilka, voice
endongo, adungu, voice
2. Love Song
3. White Snow in a Sunny Spring
4. I’m Going Back to North Carolina
6. Dance of the Yi People
7. Cossack Lament
8. Old Joe Clark
9. Bat-Out-Of-Hell Kozachok
10. Waves Lapping at the Shore
11. Night Rider
Wu Man is an internationally renowned pipa virtuoso, cited by the Los Angeles Times as “the artist most responsible for bringing the pipa to the Western world.” She is an inheritor of the Pudong School of pipa playing, one of the most prestigious classical styles of Imperial China, and is a graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. Wu Man is the first recipient of a master’s degree in pipa and is not only an outstanding exponent of the traditional repertoire, but is also recognized as a leading interpreter of contemporary pipa music.
Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied with Lin Shicheng, Kuang Yuzhong, Chen Zemin, and Liu Dehai at Beijing’s Central Conservatory. She received many awards in China, including first prize in the First National Music Performance Competition. She also participated in many groundbreaking premieres of works by a new generation of Chinese composers. She currently lives in Boston, where she was selected as a Bunting Fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study. She has continued to champion new works and has inspired new pipa literature from composers Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Lou Harrison, Tan Dun, Bright Sheng, Chen Yi, Zhou Long, Bun-Ching Lam and many others. She was selected by Yo-Yo Ma as the winner of the City of Toronto Glenn Gould Protege Prize in music and communication. Wu Man also performed at the White House alongside Yo-Yo Ma, with whom she now performs in the Silk Road Project. She has collaborated with many other distinguished musicians, including Yuri Bashmet, Christoph Eschenbach, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Michael Stern, the Kronos Quartet, the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, Moscow Soloists, the Boston and Seattle Symphony Orchestras, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group. She has performed at many prestigious music centers, including Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Royal Albert Hall, the Concertgebouw, Theatre de la Ville, Opera Bastille, and the Great Hall in Moscow. Wu Man’s current and future projects include a world tour with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project; the world premiere of The Song and Dance of Tears by Bright Sheng with Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax and the New York Philharmonic; The Sound of A Voice musical theater piece by Philip Glass and David Henry Hwang for the American Repertory Theater in Boston; a new chamber work for Wu Man and the Kronos Quartet by Terry Riley; and a featured appearance at the Ilkhom International Contemporary Music Festival in Tashkent.
Lee Knight, born in the Adirondack mountains of upstate New York, currently lives in Cashiers, North Carolina, a part of the southern Appalachian chain. He has studied the folk cultures of the southern Appalachians, the Adirondacks, and the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, learning his repertoire by visiting with local residents and musicians who have maintained their traditions. Knight has collected songs and stories from both close to home and a world away, including the Adirondacks, the southern Appalachians, Canada, Scotland, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Columbia and Peru. He plays the five-string banjo, fretless five-string banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, Cherokee flute, Cherokee rattle, Cherokee water drum, guitar, and mouth bow. He performs regularly at concerts, folk festivals and camps, telling stories, singing unaccompanied ballads and calling dances. He has performed with Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, Bill Monroe and Alan Lomax. He has released two folk music CDs, From the Appalachians and From the Adirondacks, and provided the music and narration for the documentary film Nantahalla, Land of the Noonday Sun. Julian Kytasty is a third generation Ukrainian bandura player, following in the steps of his father, grandfather and great uncle who were among the few players who managed to make their way west, to America’s Midwest in their case, in the flood of refugees after World War II. Known for his sensitive recreation of the music of the kobzari, the blind bards of Ukraine, Kytasty is also a contemporary artist for whom the tradition he has mastered is a firm foundation for explorations in many genres, and for collaborations with artists from different musical worlds. His compositions and arrangements for bandura are performed by bandura players around the world. He has also composed for dance, theater and film. Kytasty has toured extensively in Europe, the Americas, and Australia, playing venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the steps of a village church in Brazil. He has performed and recorded as a soloist (e.g. the recording Black Sea Winds: The Kobzari of Ukraine), and also with the acclaimed Canadian world music ensemble Paris to Kyiv and his own New York-based ensemble, the Experimental Bandura Trio. He currently lives in New York City.
James Makubuya was born in the region of Buganda in south central Uganda. He came to the United States in 1986 and earned a Masters degree in Western music and a PhD in ethnomusicology. He is currently an associate professor at Wabash College and makes frequent trips back to Uganda to do fieldwork in the musical traditions of East Africa. An accomplished instrumentalist, dancer and choreographer, he has studied with several master musicians from various East African musical traditions. Though the endongo is his primary musical instrument, he is also proficient on several others, including the adungu, akogo (thumb piano), ndingidi (tube fiddle), madinda (log xylophone), and in various East African dance drum styles. He has performed nationally and internationally with the New York-based African Troubadours, the Kayaga of Africa and the Kiyira Ensemble, and he has arranged traditional music for the Kronos Quartet, with which he performed in concert on the endongo. Before coming to the US he was the artistic director of CACEMCHO, Uganda’s 150-voice national choir, which he led in several successful international tours, including a concert and mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Makubuya performed on the soundtrack to the movie Mississippi Masala and several television movies and documentaries, and he has released three CDs, including The Uganda Tropical Beat I, Taata Wange and Watik, Watik: Music from Uganda.