Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream

Chinese Pipa Music of Gao Hong

Innova 240



1.   Butterfly      7’58”

                        Gao Hong, pipa; Nirmala Rajasekar, veena & vocals;

                              Michelle Kinney, cello;  Biplab Bhattacharya, tabla


2.   Mother-In-Law Arguing With Daughter-In-Law       5’19”

                        Gao Hong, pipa


3.   Courage      7’35”

                        Gao Hong, pipa; David Hagedorn, percussion


4.   Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream      9’29”

                        Gao Hong, pipa; Shubhendra Rao, sitar;

                              Biplab Bhattacharya, tabla


5.   Flying Dragon Concerto      8’48”

                        Gao Hong, pipa; Joseph Schad, piano


6.   Celebration      10’01”

                        Kenny Endo, taiko; Gao Hong, pipa;

                              Nirmala Rajasekar, veena & vocals;

                        Shubhendra Rao, sitar; Michelle Kinney, cello;

                        David Hagedorn, percussion; Biplab Bhattacharya, tabla


                                                             Total: 49’10”



1. Butterfly                      by Gao Hong

Commissioned by IFTPA  with support from the Minnesota State Arts Board.

                        Gao Hong, pipa; Nirmala Rajasekar, veena & vocals; 

                        Michelle Kinney, cello; Biplab Bhattacharya, tabla


Just as the butterfly comes into our lives briefly and brings us great joy and

pleasure during its short stay on earth, so too do some people.  This piece is

dedicated to those who have come into our lives, touched our hearts

deeply and brought us much joy and inspiration, but like the butterfly,

have left far too soon.


2. Mother-in-Law Arguing with Daughter-in-Law       by Lin Shicheng

Supported by the Bush Foundation’s Folk and Traditional Arts Fellowship

                        Gao Hong, pipa


Lost for decades, this piece was recently reconstructed by Gao Hong’s mentor - the late pipa master of the Pudong style, Lin Shicheng - and passed on to Gao Hong during her travels to Hong Kong and Beijing. It tells the story of a mother-in-law arguing with her daughter-in-law with a wide array of entertaining and descriptive sounds coming from the pipa. The recording of this piece is dedicated to Gao Hong’s teacher, Lin Shicheng.


3. Courage                       by Gao Hong

Commissioned by the Jerome Foundation

                        Gao Hong, pipa; David Hagedorn, percussion


In April of 2005, Gao Hong’s precious daughter, Alida, was diagnosed with leukemia.  Due to numerous rare complications with her chemotherapy, a four-year old girl who loved to sing and dance and play with her friends was suddenly bedridden, in extreme pain, and unable to walk.  She immediately began a rigorous 26-month chemotherapy program and remained hospitalized for a solid month, having a chest tube inserted and her nose cauterized on both sides. She spent most of the summer in physical therapy, and through hard work and the strong desire to be a “normal girl” she regained her ability to walk and dance. 


Throughout her treatment, Alida was as brave as anyone could ever be. She was a great inspiration to her entire family, and kept them all going during this difficult time.  Gao Hong’s piece Courage is inspired by Alida’s triumph and her ability to overcome great difficulties and remain positive throughout her trauma.  The piece is in three movements, played without pauses. 


4. Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream                  by Gao Hong

Commissioned by the Jerome Foundation

                        Gao Hong, pipa; Shubhendra Rao, sitar


Inspired by the serenity of a forest and the excitement and playfulness of a flowing stream, Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream was premiered at the Southern Theater in 2003.  A second version was quickly adapted for Gao Hong’s multicultural group Speaking in Tongues. It is included in the Minnesota Science Museum’s “Wild Music: Sounds and Songs of Life” exhibition that is currently touring the U.S.  A third incarnation of the piece, an arrangement for pipa and piano trio by Gao Hong and her husband, Paul Dice, was premiered by the Bakken Trio at the Southern Theater in 2005.



5. Flying Dragon Concerto                                by Gao Hong

Commissioned by the American Composers Forum’s Jerome Composers’

Commissioning Program

                        Gao Hong, pipa; Joseph Schad, piano


Based on Gao Hong’s solo composition Flying Dragon, the concerto version was premiered in July 2005 by the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra with Jere Lantz conducting.  It has since been performed by the Oshkosh Symphony, William LaRue Jones, Conductor, and by the Rochester Symphony with Jere Lantz conducting. The version featured on this CD is a piano adaptation of the orchestral score interpreted by piano prodigy Joseph Schad.



Gao Hong was born in the Year of the Dragon.  When she was 3 years old her mother took her to a fortuneteller who told them that because of the time and date she was born, she was a “flying dragon.” Her life has paralleled several of the characteristics associated with a flying dragon - constantly being on the move, never being settled, never being certain of where your home is, never knowing what your future will bring. Gao left her family at age 12 to become a professional musician and avoid the severe consequences of the Cultural Revolution.  She has since moved further and further from her hometown - first to a neighboring province, then to Beijing, Japan, and finally the United States. In Flying Dragon Concerto she explores the mixed emotions and confusion brought on by her nomadic lifestyle that continues to leave her uncertain of what her future will bring. She reflects upon the constant struggles and challenges in a life filled with both hardship and happiness as well as a constant need for inner strength.


6. Celebration                      by Gao Hong


                        Kenny Endo, taiko; Gao Hong, pipa; Nirmala Rajasekar, veena & vocals;

                        Shubhendra Rao, sitar; Michelle Kinney, cello;

                        Biplab Bhattacharya, tabla; David Hagedorn, percussion


Inspiration for this piece comes from Gao Hong’s daughter’s victory over

leukemia, her friendships with musicians worldwide that have inspired her

greatly, and reflecting on her 35 years of playing the pipa.


Commissioned by the Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial

and in recognition of the valuable cultural contributions of artists to society. 

This CD is also partly funded  by a subito grant from the American Composers Forum.


Producer : Paul Dice

Design: Gao Hong, Philip Blackburn

Engineer :  Matthew Zimmerman

Tracks 3, 5, and 6 are live recordings

Innova Director: Philip Blackburn

Operations Manager: Chris Campbell

Innova is supported by an endowment

from the McKnight Foundation.


Bookings: World Music Professionals

1609 West County Road 42, #229

Burnsville, MN 55306 USA

[email protected] 

Tel: (952) 210-3628