Wu Man performs folk music from around the world
with Luis Conte and Daniel Ho in Our World in Song,
a new album to be released on Wind Music September 4
NEW YORK, NY (September 3, 2014) — On her latest recording, Our World in Song: An Odyssey of Musical Treasures, renowned pipa virtuoso Wu Man joins Grammy-winning collaborators Luis Conte (percussion) and Daniel Ho (ukulele, slack-key guitar) in performing arrangements of traditional folk songs from around the world. The recording, to be released on the Wind Music label on Thursday, September 4, features a varied repertoire that spans six continents. The album will be available to purchase from CD Baby and iTunes.
The recording offers a distinctive take on popular and classic folk tunes from diverse countries spanning the globe including Mexico, France, Australia, China, Wales and more. Among the arrangements on the album are the French children’s tune “Frère Jacques” played in 13/4 meter, the popular Zimbabwean/South African anthem “Shosholoza” sung by a Taiwanese aboriginal youth choir, and the Japanese folk song “Sakura, Sakura” with added contrapuntal intricacies. Each arrangement on the album features Wu Man on the pipa accompanied by a variety of string and percussion instruments. The liner notes include a visual directory of the more than 50 instruments that are played.
This recording project is illustrative of Wu Man’s dedication to introducing the pipa to the world. In the liner notes, she writes, “The folk song is one of the basic expressions of human emotion. Our lives are enriched enormously not only by these beautiful tunes, but also by the lyrics that teach us about the world in which we live, describing vastly diverse cultural customs, and even geography. Folk songs can present us with a musical map of the world!”
Daniel Ho, known primarily for his Grammy Award–winning recordings of Hawaiian music, plays numerous plucked stringed instruments on the album, including ukulele, Hawaiian slack-key guitar, bouzouki, dulcimer, charango, and mandolin, among others. Luis Conte adds multiple layers of percussion to each track, playing various drums and other percussion instruments from around the world. The trio is joined by guest musicians Wu Chen-Chun on percussion, Jhou Yi-Cian on erhu, and the Taiwu Children’s Ancient Ballads Troupe, a Taiwanese aboriginal choir.
Our World in Song is the first recording to feature the pipa in folk music from around the world, rather than focusing on any particular region. The musical concept for the album was conceived by Wu Man, and the recording was produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Daniel Ho. This is Wu Man’s second album on the Wind Music label, following the 2013 release Elegant Pipa Classics, which was nominated for Taiwan’s Golden Melody Award for Best Traditional Album.
This recording forms the latest installment in Wu Man’s series of cross-cultural collaborations of the past few years, beginning with Wu Man and Friends in 2006, an album in which she performs folk songs from China, Ukraine, Uganda, and the Appalachians alongside soloists from these regions. In 2011, she traveled to Taiwan to study the music of Taiwanese aborigines, culminating in a program titled Wu Man and Aboriginal Friends from Taiwan, which she took to festivals in Taipei and Hong Kong. The following year, she recorded Borderlands: Wu Man and Master Musicians of the Silk Route on the Smithsonian Folkways label, performing the traditional music of the Uyghur region with Central Asian musicians. With a grant from the San Diego Foundation’s Creative Catalyst Fund, she and Mexican son jarocho group Son de San Diego collaborated on a project titled When China Meets Latin America. In workshops and concerts presented by the Carlsbad Music Festival throughout 2014 (with their final concert on September 20), the five musicians have explored the connections between Chinese and Latin American music.
Recognized as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Grammy Award-nominated musician Wu Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator, and composer who gives her lute-like instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. Through numerous concert tours 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 Wu Man 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, the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.
Orchestral highlights of the 2014-15 season include performances of Zhao Jiping’s Concerto for Pipa and Orchestrawith the Canton Symphony Orchestra, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. In recital, Wu Man takes a new program, “Journey of Chinese Pipa,” to Sydney and Toronto. The solo recital explores the history of pipa repertoire, ranging from traditional folksongs to original compositions by Wu Man herself. A frequent collaborator with Kronos Quartet for over 20 years, she rejoins the ensemble at Cal Performances to perform Terry Riley’s The Cusp of Magic, which was composed on the occasion of the composer’s 70th birthday. This performance marks the work’s 10th anniversary, as well as the composer’s 80th birthday. A principal member of the Silk Road Ensemble, she performs with the eclectic group in a concert with the New York Philharmonic.
Luis Conte’s long and varied career has included numerous Hollywood film scores and albums with Madonna, Ray Charles, Phil Collins, Santana, Shakira, Jackson Browne, Sergio Mendes, Cachao, to name a few.
Born in Santiago, Cuba, Mr. Conte spent the first 15 years of his life learning the traditions of Cuban music. While immersed in the music of his native Cuba, he also developed a passion for rock & roll, R&B/soul, jazz, and the Beatles. At 15, Mr. Conte emigrated to Madrid, Spain, and then to Hollywood, playing guitar in numerous rock bands throughout his teenage years. While in Los Angeles, he was reunited with Cuban drums and by the time he was 18, Mr. Conte had become intensely interested in drumming and took every opportunity to play and to learn, drawing his inspiration from a deep source of rhythm absorbed during his youth in Cuba. Since then, he has become one of the most respected and recorded percussionists in the world.
A Honolulu native, Daniel Ho started music lessons at an early age and spent his teenage years orchestrating big band arrangements. He studied composition and film scoring at the Grove School of Music in Los Angeles, and was the leader and keyboardist of the acclaimed ’90s contemporary jazz band, Kilauea. Mr. Ho performs original songs in English and Hawaiian on ukulele, slack-key guitar, and piano. Notable credits include singing Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” in Hawaiian for the feature film Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), and his widely covered ukulele instrumental anthem, “Pineapple Mango.” As an independent record label owner, he is actively involved in composition, performance, audio engineering, and production.
Mr. Ho is the winner of six consecutive Grammy Awards (Best Hawaiian Music Album, 2005-2010). In 2010, his solo ukulele CD, Polani (Pure), was the first ukulele album to receive a Grammy nomination. The following year, he received a nomination for Best Pop Instrumental Album for his piano album, E Kahe Malie (Flowing Gently). His 2012 album On a Gentle Island Breeze was nominated for a Grammy in the World Music category.
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Our World in Music
Release date: September 4, 2014
Wind Music TCD 5331
Wu Man, pipa
Daniel Ho, various plucked string instruments
Luis Conte, percussion
1. Frère Jacques (France)
2. Three and Six (China)
3. Romance (Spain/South America)
4. Shosholoza (Zimbabwe/South Africa)
5. Aloha ‘Oe (Hawaii)
6. Sakura, Sakura (Japan)
7. Arirang (Korea)
8. Cielito Lindo (Mexico)
9. Grasshopper Teasing Rooster (Taiwan)
10. The Ash Grove (Wales)
11. Waltzing Matilda (Australia)
12. Jasmine Flower (China)
- Tracks 2, 9, 11, and 12 arranged by Wu Man & Daniel Ho
- Tracks 3, 7 and 8 arranged by Daniel Ho; pipa arrangement by Wu Man
- Tracks 1, 5, 6, and 10 arranged by Daniel Ho
- Track 4 arranged by Daniel Ho; Taiwu Ancient Ballads Troupe choral arrangement by Camake Valaule