Gao Hong and Friends Around the World

Flying Dragon

Innova 595


1) Morning                                11’09’’

            Sitar, Pipa, and Tabla

2) Moved by the Spirit            9’50’’

            Flute and Pipa

3) Flying Dragon                                 6’30’’              Pipa Solo

4) Cutting Grain Song               11’00”

            Shakuhachi and Pipa

5) Silk Road                            9’43”

            Pipa, Sitar, Flute, Shakuhachi,

            Tabla, and Frame Drum



                                    Total: 48’14”


Flying Dragon

Gao Hong


1) Morning (11’09”) Shubhendra Rao, Sitar; Gao Hong, Pipa; Ty Burhoe, Tabla

            A collaborative composition by Shubhendra Rao and Gao Hong

            Shubhendra and I met through Ragamala Music and Dance Theater. As soon as I heard his beautiful playing I knew he was someone I wanted to work with. But first we had to find out how to combine the sitar with the pipa, and the complex rhythms and scales of Indian music with the melodies and duple meters of Chinese music. The first week we got together we couldn't find anything that worked. Then one day I retuned my pipa and learned Indian scales and complicated Indian rhythms. I found our sessions very challenging, but ripe with rewards.

            This piece is based on traditional Indian format and contains parts which are improvised. The results make me feel as though the sitar and pipa are like brother and sister expressing themselves through low and high voices. I feel the instruments blend beautifully and compliment each other well, making for a unique and touching listening experience.


2) Moved by the Spirit (9’50”)  James Newton, Flute; Gao Hong, Pipa


            James and I met at the Drum Center in Minneapolis. He was the featured guest artist and I was in the audience. Having come directly from a rehearsal, I had my pipa with

me, and James asked me to come up and play with him. I had just recently moved to America and had no idea how to improvise in a Western style. One of my Chinese friends, who was also a musician, told me to go ahead and play any traditional Chinese piece and James would follow me. After playing only the first two notes of a traditional piece, I became so moved by James’ playing that I began improvising for the first time in a Western style. James’ music seemed to come straight from his soul, and was so inspiring to me. It was an enlightening evening, one which I will never forget and will always treasure.




            The improvisation on this CD was created in a magical moment as well. James had just arrived from California after an exhausting trip. We went directly into the studio, not even having time to discuss what we wanted to do. We sat in separate rooms in the studio and began playing, and managed once again to totally connect. This piece was recorded in just one take, and again James’ music poured out from his soul and inspired me deeply.


3)  Flying Dragon (6’30”) Gao Hong, Pipa

            by Gao Hong

            I was born in the Year of the Dragon. When I was three years old my mother took me to a fortune teller who told us that because of the specific time and date I was born, that I was a “flying dragon.” My 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 my home is, never knowing what my future will bring. I  left my family at age 12 to become a professional musician and avoid the severe consequences of the Cultural Revolution. I have since moved further and further from my hometown - first to a neighboring province, then to Beijing, Japan, and finally the United States. In my composition, Flying Dragon, I explore the mixed emotions and confusion brought on by my nomadic lifestyle which continues to leave me uncertain of what my future will bring. I reflect upon the constant struggles and challenges in a life filled with both hardship and happiness as well as the constant need for inner strength.


4) Cutting Grain Song (11’00”) Yoshio Kurahashi, Shakuhachi; Gao Hong, Pipa

            Japanese folk song arranged by Gao Hong

            I met Yoshio in Lincoln, Nebraska. We were both part of a new music collaboration. As soon as I heard his soulful playing, I knew I wanted to work with him again. He is truly a great master, and it has been a great honor to have the opportunity to collaborate with him. This piece is based on a traditional Japanese folk song. Yoshio’s beautiful playing is the true inspiration for this arrangement.


5) Silk Road (9’43”) Yoshio Kurahashi, Shakuhachi; Shubhendra Rao, Sitar;

             James Newton, Flute; Ty Burhoe, Tabla and Frame Drum; Gao Hong, Pipa

             by Gao Hong


            I have always had a dream that one day musicians from many different countries would join together on one stage oblivious to the color of their skin or to what their native lands were. Like the meaning of my name,“high rainbow,” I saw these musicians as creating great beauty and unity in the sky. On March 16, 2002, my dream came true. Many wonderful artists from all over the world came to Walker Art Center in Minneapolis to help celebrate my 30 years of musical life in a concert called “Gao Hong and Friends Around the World.”

            For this piece I composed melodies and rhythms influenced by Uigur minority music to depict the sparse desert surrounding the Silk Road and the camels in their slow travel. Just as goods and merchants from both the east and west flowed through the Silk Road, this  piece combines musicians and musical traditions from throughout the world.


            It has been a great honor for me to work with the wonderful musicians on this CD. I am always eager to try new things and find new ways to combine my pipa with music and musicians from all over the world.  I hope you enjoy these efforts, and would love to hear your feedback.


Gao Hong


Biographies (in order of appearance)


Gao Hong began her career as a professional musician at age 12 and graduated with honors from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the great pipa master Lin Shicheng. She has received numerous honors in both China and the U.S., including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music


Performers Competition, an International Art Cup in Beijing, two McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians, an Artist Assistance Fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board, a LIN Grant from the St. Paul Companies, and an Asian Pacific Award. As a composer she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, Theater Mu, and Twin Cities Public Television for the six-part series Made in China.


Gao has performed throughout Europe, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians, traditional Chinese music ensembles, and musicians from other cultures. Her performances include those at major festivals and concert halls worldwide, including the Lincoln Center Festival; the San Francisco Jazz Festival; the Smithsonian Institution; the Next Wave Festival; Festival d’Automne a Paris in Paris and Caen, France; the International Festival of Perth, Australia; and the Festival de Teatro d’Europa in Milan. Her many guest appearances as a soloist with symphony orchestras have included world and U.S. premieres of pipa concerti and performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Heidelberg Philharmonic (Germany), the Women's Philharmonic (San Francisco), the Portland (Maine) Symphony, and a world premiere recording with the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic. Gao also toured worldwide with the Lincoln Center production of The Peony Pavilion.


China's People's Music wrote of Gao Hong  that ..."her performance has extremely strong artistic appeal and belongs under the category of ‘fine wine’....The more you listen, the more beautiful it gets.”


Shubhendra Rao is one of the leading instrumentalists of India. As one of the foremost disciples of sitar maestro Pandit Ravi Shankar, he has been acknowledged by connoisseurs as a worthy successor to his Guru’s tradition. His father, N.R. Rama Rao, is a noted disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar and initiated him into the intricacies of the sitar. At the age of 18, Rao moved to Delhi to live with and learn from his Guru in the Guru-Shishya tradition, and in the following years entered into a period of introspective and creative metamorphosis. He




accompanied his Guru in solo concerts and orchestra performances such as Live in Kremlin and Ghanashyam in the U.K. Rao has also performed at the Shankarlal Festival and the Gunidas Sammelan (New Delhi), the Vasantahabba Festival (Bangalore), the Saptak Festival (Ahmedabad), Theatre de la Ville (Paris), and the WOMAD Festival (Guernsey, England). His international tours have taken him to the U.S., Canada, Europe, and many Asian countries. A regular performer on radio and television, he is one of very few artists to have been invited to audition by All India Radio and given an “A” Grade.


Rao was commissioned to compose music for From Temple to Theater, a production of Ragamala Music and Dance Theater (Minneapolis), and performs worldwide, continuing to experiment with new musical idioms, and creating and teaching music.


Ty Burhoe began his musical training at age six, supported by his father, a performing classical musician. After moving to the mountains of Montana at age 18, he abandoned all practice of the arts and worked as a wildlife biologist for the next several years, eventually apprenticing with a Native American Cree Elder. The experiences and ceremonies born from that time continue to be a transforming force in his life. In 1990, he returned to the art world and became a disciple of drumming virtuoso Ustad Zakir Hussain, and began working as a full time percussionist, focusing mainly on tabla and frame drums. Burhoe has worked with a wide range of musicians from different genres - jazz, folk, country, bluegrass, progressive, and classical Indian - including Kai Eckhardt, Howard Levy, Bela Fleck, Tony Furtado, Kitaro, Miguel Espinoza (Curandero), Bill Douglas, Tina Malia, Ustad Sultan Khan, Nirmala Rajasekar, David Trasoff, David Whetstone, and Nancy Lesh. Burhoe has been working as a producer, arranging tours, recordings, and premier concerts for all of the artists mentioned above, as well as Zakir Hussain, Masters of Percussion, and artists such as Alla Rakha, Sultan Khan, Amjad Ali Khan, Aashis Khan, and many others. Burhoe currently works as a freelance percussionist, recording artist and producer in San Francisco, California.


James Newton is one of the world’s true flute virtuosos in both jazz and classical idioms. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, fellowships, and grants, including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships and National Endowment for the Arts Grants. For eighteen consecutive years he was voted top flutist in Downbeat magazine’s International Critic’s Poll. Described as a “musician’s renaissance man,” Newton continues to perform worldwide, while also teaching at California State University, Los Angeles. His classical compositions have been performed in the U.S. and Europe. Newton has performed with many notable artists in the jazz and classical fields, including Mingus Dynasty, the New York Philharmonic, David Murray, Vladimir Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi, Anthony Davis, Bobby Hutcherson, San Francisco Ballet, Jon Jang, Kenny Burrell, Herbie Hancock, the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group, and the Jose Limon Dance Company among many others.


Yoshio Kurahashi has been playing shakuhachi for over 40 years, beginning study as a child with his father, Yodo Kurahashi, the first director of the Muju-An school in Kyoto. He later

studied with Homei Matsumura, the Kinko-style player in Nara, Japan. In 1980 Kurahashi 

became the second director of the Muju-An school and has toured extensively since 1981 in the U.S., Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, China, and Israel. Since 1995, he has taught annual classes in New York, Boston, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, and Montreal. His inaugural CD Kyoto Spirit was released in 1999 and was voted Best World Music release by New Age magazine. He is the recipient of the prestigious Osaka Cultural Festival Award and the Kyoto City Art/Culture Association Award.


Gao Hong would like to give special thanks to:

Ty Burhoe, Yoshio Kurahashi, James Newton, and Shubhendra Rao for their inspiration and friendship.

Family members Paul Dice, Alida Dice, Nancy Dice, Gao Huiting, Gao Feng, Gao Ge, and Yang Lan

for their great love and support. Her teacher, Lin Shicheng, and all her many friends who have helped her throughout her life. Her audience, for allowing her to share her music and culture with them. The Walker Art Center and Philip Bither. Innova Director Philip Blackburn, Director of Artist and Product Chris Strouth, Innova Assistant Chris Campbell.

Innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnight Foundation and by a grant from

the National Endowment

for the Arts.




Produced by Gao Hong


Recorded and Engineered by Stephen McKinstry

at Salmagundi Recording Studio, Northfield, Minnesota


Mastered by Matthew Zimmerman

at Wild Sound Studios, Minneapolis


Chinese Calligraphy and Painting by Yang Lan


Other CDs featuring Gao Hong:


Lin Shicheng and Gao Hong.  Hunting Eagles Catching

Swans: Music for Chinese Pipa. Gao with her teacher,

pipa master Lin Shicheng, in a highly acclaimed recording

of pure Pudong style pipa solos and duets.


The Beijing Trio. Buddhist Temple Music from Beijing. Gao

with guanzi master Bao Jian and sheng master Hu Jianbing.


The Spirit of Nature. Traditional Chinese Music.

Top professional Chinese musicians performing Chinese

classical, folk, court, minority, and silk and bamboo music.


Speaking in Tongues. First Word. Multicultural group

featuring four outstanding musicians from Ghana, Mexico,

China, and the U.S.


Van de Vate, Nancy. A Peacock Southeast Flew. Gao performs

a modern pipa concerto with the Moravian Philharmonic.


Belladonna with Gao Hong. A mixture of early music

from both the east and west.


For bookings and CD orders : World Music Professionals, 1609 W

Cty. Rd. 42, #229, Burnsville, MN 55306 USA.    (952) 210-3628   [email protected]



For bookings contact:

World Music Professionals

1609 West County Road 42, # 229

Burnsville, MN 55306

(952) 210-3628     [email protected]                       [email protected]