#FridayFive: Wu Man and the Shanghai Quartet. Photo by Stephen Kahn.
#FridayFive: Wu Man and the Shanghai Quartet

Closing out its 2014/2015 season, the Chan Centre presents the Vancouver debut of Wu Man and the Shanghai Quartet in A Night in Ancient and New China. The concert explores the traditional and modern styles of China’s music that looks back to their roots with a contemporary vision. Here are five reasons we think you should go:

1. Where else in Vancouver could you see an artist demonstrating the pipa, a traditional Chinese lute-like instrument?

2. Wu Man is the first person to earn her master’s degree in the pipa and has more than 40 albums to her name, including a World Music Best Album Grammy nomination for for her 2014 album, Our World in Song.

3. The concert will be a virtual history lesson of over 2,000 combined years of Chinese music, encompassing traditional folk music to original compositions for pipa. The concert concludes with a chamber version of Oscar-winning composer Tan Dun’s 1994 work Ghost Opera, which was also initially commissioned for Wu Man, together with the Kronos Quartet.

4. Yi-Wen Jiang, the Shanghai Quartet’s second violinist, wrote all of the Chinese folk music arrangements that will be performed. Growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 70s, at the age of 11 he auditioned for a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music with a Mozart violin concerto. Once he began to play, the Professor left the room and returned with a heavy metal “mute” for Jiang’s violin, just in case anyone outside heard the non-Chinese music, which was a punishable offence.

5. Since its formation in 1983, The Shanghai Quartet has toured worldwide, performed alongside cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and even appeared in the 2004 Woody Allen film Melinda and Melinda. The family of the Quartet’s cellist, Nicholas Tzavaras, was also the subject of the Meryl Streep film Music of the Heart.

Wu Man and the Shanghai Quartet perform at the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts at the University of British Columbia on May 9. Visit http://chancentre.com for tickets and information.