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Wu Man, pipa
Courtesy of Western Piedmont Symphony

WPS Presents MASTERWORKS: Other Wordls Featuring 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellow, Wu Man, on Pipa

Journey around the world with Western Piedmont Symphony, led by Maestro Matthew Troy and featuring the world’s premier pipa player, Wu Man. The concert is October 21 at 7:30 PM at P.E. Monroe Auditorium in Hickory, NC. The pipa is an ancient Chinese lute-like instrument that may date as far back as the Han Dynasty (25-220 AD) and will be beautifully brought to life by the virtuosic Wu Man. As part of the Silkroad Ensemble, conceived by Yo-Yo Ma in 2000, Wu Man has been featured on an album that won a Grammy and a documentary that won an Emmy. In addition, because of her contribution to the preservation of traditional music and bringing the pipa to modern audiences around the world, Wu Man was recently named a 2023 NEA National Heritage Fellow, the United States’ most prestigious honor in the traditional and folk arts.

“The Chinese pipa has a history of more than 2,000 years and has unique timbre and style. I’m really looking forward to my first collaboration with [Western Piedmont] Symphony and sharing my music with audiences,” featured artist Wu Man stated. “I believe this will be an unforgettable musical and cultural experience. See you on October 21st!”

“I am thrilled to present our opening Masterworks concert, “Other Worlds,” with Wu Man, one of the world’s leading artists and ambassadors of Asian music,” noted Maestro Matthew Troy. “This concert will immediately transport you to a world of passionate love themes from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Overture, the intriguing sounds of China with Zhao Jiping’s Concerto No. 2 for Pipa and Orchestra, and closing the program with the powerful and colorful Italian masterpiece, Respighi’s Pines of Rome. This concert will be a powerful and thrilling experience that you do not want to miss!”

Western Piedmont Symphony MASTERWORKS is sponsored by the Past Presidents Club, David K. Millholland, Lynn and Chip Young, and Catawba Valley Health System, and with generous support from the United Arts Council of Catawba County and the North Carolina Arts Council.

MASTERWORKS tickets are $20, $30, $40, and $50 with $10 tickets available for students with valid ID. Purchase by visiting, call 828.324.8603, or visit the WPS Box Office, located on the SALT Block at 243 Third Avenue NE, Hickory, NC, 28601. Box Office hours are 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mon. – Fri. Concert venue is P.E. Monroe Auditorium on the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus, 775 6th St NE, Hickory, NC, 28601. Please note: All programs, artists, venues, prices, and dates are subject to change.

About the Artist:

Wu Man belongs to a rare group of musicians who have redefined the role of their instruments, in her case, the pipa, a pear-shaped, four-stringed Chinese lute with a rich history spanning centuries. She is celebrated as one of the most prominent instrumentalists of traditional Chinese music, as well as a composer and educator. She has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, and has performed in recital and with major orchestras around the world. She is a frequent collaborator with ensembles such as the Kronos and Shanghai Quartets and The Knights, and is a founding member of the Silkroad Ensemble. She has appeared in more than 40 recordings throughout her career, including the Silkroad Ensemble’s Grammy Award-winning recording Sing Me Home, featuring her composition “Green (Vincent’s Tune).” She is also a featured artist in the 2015 Emmy Award-winning documentary The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silkroad Ensemble. In the 2023-24 season, Ms. Wu premieres a new Pipa Concerto by Pulitzer Prize–winning composer Du Yun with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and later with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She returns to Carnegie Hall for performances with the Kronos Quartet and The Knights. Born in Hangzhou, China, Wu Man studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a master’s degree in pipa. At age 13, she was recognized as a child prodigy and a national role model for young pipa players. Ms. Wu is a recipient of the 2023 National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA), one of the United States’ most prestigious honors in folk and traditional arts. In 2023 she was additionally honored with the Asia Society’s Asia Arts Game Changers Award, an annual award presented in New York City honoring artists and arts professionals for their significant contributions to contemporary art. She is a Visiting Professor at her alma mater the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and a Distinguished Professor at the Zhejiang and the Xi’an Conservatories. In 2021 she received an honorary Doctorate of Music from the New England Conservatory of Music. She has also served as Artistic Director of the Xi’an Silkroad Music Festival at the Xi’an Conservatory.