Episodes:

Wu Man and Shanghai Quartet

Shanghai Quartet with Wu Man, pipa

Two-time Grammy nominee Wu Man performs on pipa (Chinese lute) with the Shanghai Quartet for Red Lantern by Zhao Jiping and Zhao Lin, based on the soundtrack to Zhang Yimou’s Oscar-nominated film Raise the Red Lantern.  She and the quartet also perform Tan Dun’s seminal work, Ghost Opera. Completing the program are two pieces for the quartet: Yi-wen Jiang’s ChinaSong and Song of the Ch’in, by Grammy nominee Zhou Long.

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Members of the Silkroad Ensemble performing a new composition at the Freer|Sackler.

The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble gives the world premiere of a major new composition that Silkroad musicians, inspired by works of art on view in the galleries, wrote for the Freer|Sackler. Performing in this debut are Sandeep Das on tabla (Indian drums), Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle), Wu Tong on vocals and sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Jeffrey Beecher on bass, and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

Silkroad Ensemble: Musical Postcards from the Freer|Sackler

The Grammy Award-winning Silkroad Ensemble gives the world premiere of a major new composition that Silkroad musicians, inspired by works of art on view in the galleries, wrote for the Freer|Sackler. Performing in this debut are Sandeep Das on tabla (Indian drums), Kojiro Umezaki on shakuhachi (Japanese flute), Shaw Pong Liu on violin and erhu (Chinese fiddle), Wu Tong on vocals and sheng (Chinese mouth organ), Jeffrey Beecher on bass, and Shane Shanahan on percussion.

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Buddhist Music from Zhihua Temple

Hear Buddhist music from seventeenth-century China as the Zhihua Buddhist Temple Ensemble performs on traditional ritual instruments. This six-person group features two members of the twenty-seventh generation of Zhihua musicians, a long-time artist with the Shanghai Peking Opera House Orchestra, and a former member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble.

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Painting with Music: Bell Yung, qin

Bell Yung performs on the qin at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in conjunction with the exhibition Painting with Words: Gentleman Artists of the Ming Dynasty. He is emeritus professor of music at the University of Pittsburgh. He specializes in the history and theory of music of the qin as well as Chinese ritual music and Cantonese opera and narrative songs. The qin he plays, named Pines in Ten Thousand Gullies, dates to the late Ming dynasty.

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Music of Toru Takemitsu and Tan Dun: Ralph Van Raat, piano

In this compelling recital, Dutch pianist Ralph van Raat performs rarely heard music by the late Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu and Chinese-born composer Tan Dun. Takemitsu, well known for his film scores, made his fame as a master of the orchestral colors that he ingeniously employs in his piano works. Tan Dun’s early fame came from his innovative use of percussion, which he integrated into his music for piano. Van Raat made his East Coast debut with this Freer Gallery recital in 2014, shortly after he performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in his first North American appearance.

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Chinese Music for the Phoenix: Washington Guzheng Society

Enjoy the graceful melodies and lovely textures of the classical Chinese guzheng, a zither with twenty-one strings that dates to the fifth century BCE. Virtuoso Bing Xia and her student Rujia Teng perform classical and contemporary works that embody many aspects of the mythical phoenix of Chinese legend. Their performance was recorded in 2013 in conjunction with the exhibition Nine Deaths, Two Births: Xu Bing’s Phoenix Project, which was on view in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery from April 27 to September 2, 2013.

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The Momenta Quartet originally assembled a version ofthe program, “Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism,” at the request of the Rubin Museum of Art (New York), which specializes in Tibetan Buddhist and other Himalayan art. The Quartet’s members are (left to right) Emilie-Anne Gendron, violin; Adda Kridler, violin; Stephanie Griffin, viola; and Michael Haas, cello.

Modern Awakenings: New Music Inspired by Buddhism

Composers from Malaysia, Japan, China, and the United States explore aspects of Buddhism through music written for string quartet. Formed in 2004, the adventuresome Momenta Quartet has performed often in New York at BargeMusic, Tonic, Le Poisson Rouge, The Stone, Roulette, and Symphony Space. It also serves as the quartet-in-residence at Temple University. This concert was recorded as part of the Meyer Concert Series at the Freer Gallery of Art on November 8, 2012.

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Sounds of the Dragon: Virtuoso Music for Chinese and Western Instruments

Hear new works for violin, cello, piano, erhu, and pipa composed by Pulitzer Prize-winner Zhou Long; Beijing-based composer Lu Pei; and Chen Yi, winner of the Charles Ives Living Award. Two outstanding ensembles–Music From China and Music From Copland House–join forces for this performance, presented as part of the Bill and Mary Meyer Concert Series on November 3, 2011.

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The Four Nations ensemble features Charles Brink, flute; Krista Bennion Feeney, violin; Loretta O'Sullivan, cello; and Andrew Appel, harpsichord and director. The ensemble presents its own annual series, Hudson River Harvest Concerts, and a second series at Columbia University’s Maison Française, in addition to guest appearances at early music festivals worldwide. (Photo by David Rodgers)

The Global Baroque: Four Nations Ensemble with Rosa Lamoreaux, soprano

During the era of Bach and Handel, European music traveled to Asia and the Americas with missionaries, merchants, and performers. This concert, recorded in 2011, features a sonata written by a Jesuit composer for the emperor of China in the Forbidden City in 1720, along with baroque music heard in Latin America and the newly founded United States.

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The featured pianists on this podcast are (left to right) Jenny Lin (born in Taiwan), Quynh Nguyen (born in Hanoi), and Xiayin Wang (born in Shanghai). Jenny Lin’s recording of the Shostakovich Preludes was voted Best of 2009 by the Washington Post. Quynh Nguyen won top prize at the International Piano Concerto Competition and now teaches at Hunter College in New York. Xiayin Wang, who has appeared at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, was called “a paragon of virtuosity” by the Washington Post.

Asia on Piano

Enjoy virtuosic arrangements of feisty folk songs from China and Vietnam, along with new music evoking calm landscapes of Asia. These selections are drawn from performances by pianists Xiayin Wang, Jenny Lin, and Quynh Nguyen, who appeared at the Freer Gallery of Art in 2010 and 2011.

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