New Release - February 23, 2024 by ARC Music from the U.K.!

Alondra (Skylark) 雲雀 - Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde

2023 Global Music Award - Best Duo and Creativity/Originality

Review From the USA

Alastair Johnston:

“ Last time we met Gao Hong, a year ago, she was jamming with a kora player, Kadialy Kouyate. That album won awards and made me notice Chinese pipa playing for the first time. Now the pipa player has teamed up with Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde, a flamenco guitarist, and turns in an equally impressive set. This is Gao's first encounter with this particular style of guitar playing. The title means "Skylark" and suggests the creative inspiration found in nature, such as bird calls. The challenge the two musicians faced, in blending very different styles of music, was met in the celebrated Abbey Road studios in London where they got to know one another in a lively musical conversation. Not all jamming is worth preserving, but here the two are cautious and respectful as they feel out the spaces in the music. Gao's response to the flamenco flourishes are poetic which leads in turn to Monteverde pulling out all his best licks. Birds are an apt image as the music does swoop and soar. In another ornithological reference they do a cover song: "La Paloma," a famous Spanish song from 1860 inspired by a trip to Cuba. It's a Habanera but has that distinctive stretched cadence familiar from Tango and the work of composers like Albéniz.

Review From Russia

Russia “Jazz Quad” translated by Google:

“In the album you will find many more interesting things, for example, Longing for My Lover, where the guitar and pipa sound like the voices of two lovers in an ancient Chinese melody from Yunnan province, or Song of the Nomads, dedicated to the ancient trek of Asians to America. It was the Argentine guitarist who made a very significant contribution to the album program. I would especially mention the play Prayer and Impressions of Ronda dedicated to the victims of the pandemic, which glorifies the amazing beauty of the Andalusian city in the mountains. Different instruments, different methods of sound production, different fret systems - but two hearts of two talented people beating in unison - Alondra will not leave you indifferet."

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Review From India

Serebade Magazine:

"..Alondra’ is more than an album; it’s an exploration of shared experiences, celebrating the magic that happens when diverse talents converge.a

"…this unique musical journey intertwines Pipa and Flamenco, transcending cultural boundaries

"Skylark Calls,” mirrors the bird’s song, creating an intricate melody that defies genre norms. ‘Alondra’ is more than an album; it’s an exploration of shared experiences, celebrating the magic that happens when diverse talents converge

In an exclusive interview, Gao Hong shares insights into the collaborative process, the challenges of blending Pipa and Flamenco, and the joy of creating something beyond individual imagination

To read the full article:


Terry Kunda (House of Friendship) 友誼 - Gao Hong and Kadialy Kouyate

2022 Global Music Award - Best Duo and Instrumentaistl Gold Medals

Review From the UK.

"Conceived during an international Zoom call, this collaboration between US-based pipa virtuoso Gao Hong and London-based kora master Kadialy Kouyate is a carefully crafted work of spontaneity. With the title translating as 'House of Friendship', this sets the tone for a joyful and emotionally generous set of pieces, which could possibly be the first meeting between the pair's respective instruments. With Gao and Kadialy each taking charge of half of the pieces, the music flows in a manner that feels both composed and improvised, the two drawing on folk melodies from both China and Kadialy's native Senegal. 'Sun Rising' is based on an ebullient tune from south China, and 'Fulani Blues' does likewise with a song from the Fulani region of southern Senegal, the two pieces mirroring each other like an exchange of gifts between the players.

The title-track is a particular highlight, featuring as it does Kadialy's warm and inviting vocal, and ‘Taking It Easy' provides one of the album's most gorgeous and plaintive melodic moments. 'Between Stars' is a more spontaneous offering, with Gao's gently chiming harmonics decorating Kadialy's expressive and thoughtful kora playing. The aforementioned sense of warmth permeates the whole of Terri Kunda, culminating in the upbeat and optimistic Joyful World', a fitting end to an album that radiates a playful unity.”- CHARLIE CAWOOD

“This seemingly unlikely collaboration between Chinese pipa player Gao Hong and the now London-based Senegalese kora player, Kadialy Kouyate, certainly works well. Both musicians are masters of their respective crafts and are accustomed to working with a wide variety of musicians from ditterent genres. Sarah Wanstall's notes make much of Oscar Wilde's statement that ‘spontaneity is a meticulously prepared art' Although only 'Between Stars' is truly spontaneous, played with no prior discussion whatsoever, some, like the opening 'Kora Meets Pipa' have a feel of the two successfully, if initially tentatively, exploring possibilities, whilst others, such as 'House Of Friendship' and, adding yet another layer of fusion, Kadialy's 'Fulani Blues', show just how well the two stringed instruments can complement and develop araund each other. In a rather nice touch that it would be good to see other fusion albums emulating, both musicians also have a solo track each to show how their respective traditions sound in their own environment. Quiet and thoughtful, or joyous and uplifting, let me say that Terri Kundo is a very, very successful set.” - - Norman Darwen


Review From the Swedish Music Magazine Lira

Lira is the largest magazine about jazz, wit, folk and world music in the Nordic region. Here is the Google translation in English: “Curious creative musicians don't stay within their musical comfort zones. This CD strongly conveys such a border-crossing attitude of the two musicians, Gao Hong and Kadialy Kouyaté. When two musical cultures as vastly different as the Chinese and the West African meet, the musicians are required to open their minds and create something that is new and distinctive. The security of handling one's own instrument and one's familiar form of music must now be opened up to a collaboration with completely different sounds and expressions.

Gao Hong is a world-renowned, award-winning master of the pipa, a Chinese lute. The pipa is a plucked string instrument that for thousands of years has been regarded as the "king" among Chinese folk instruments. The playing technique of the lute is quite difficult. You pluck or strum the four strings of the lute and hold the instrument upright on your lap. Her skillful and elegant playing of the ancient and seemingly simple instrument has led to many awards and successes around the world and in the United States where she now works.Kadialy Kouyaté is a musician, singer and vocal storyteller from Senegal, raised and schooled in a long family tradition of Kouyaté griots. He plays the kora, an almost majestically built string instrument with 21 strings and tonal possibilities that make the kora a rare polyphonic instrument. The kora’s characteristic sonic qualities have made the instrument the companion of oral narration. It is a West African sound that pulsates in a variety of guises around the world.

The difference between the instruments gives the music strangely suggestive effects. The Chinese lute has a harsh metallic sound when the strings are struck and lacks a lingering reverberation unless a special tremolo technique is used. The West African kora is of a completely different character, with the multitude of strings resembling a soft-sounding universe compared to the short distinct tones of the pipa. We encounter exciting contrasts in the ten limitless pieces that the artists created for the recording.”


Review From Italy

Here is a google translation in English: "The two chordophones featured on this album both have very ancient histories: they are the Chinese pipa, a pear-shaped fretted lute with four strings and a very short neck; , and the West African kora, traditionally composed of twenty-one strings arranged in two parallel rows on a handle attached to the calabash (a large half-gourd covered with animal skin). Playing them are two instrumentalists, composers, and established teachers with a prestigious pedigree and an open gaze from numerous all-round collaborations: Chinese-born Gao Hong from Beijing who now resides in the United States, and Kadialy Kouyate, who was born in Senegal and now hails from London. "Terri Kunda", a title that encapsulates the essence of a fully expressive collaboration, roughly translates as the "House of Friendship". Kouyate recounts: "Since that first online meeting, there was a mutual feeling that our two tools would work together [...]. So we started planning how to put together an album spontaneously, improvising and composing at the same time. The process was simple enough. We agreed that I would lead half of the songs and Gao would lead the other half. For my part, I came up with ideas based on my musical structure, and from there, I made room for Gao to contribute in her own way." And Gao adds: "In the studio we realized that there were more challenges than we anticipated. Most artists and other instruments I've played with are melodic, while African music is primarily based on rhythm-based." In short, two musical worlds certainly not close to each other, which the two artists have approached to reconcile with dedication and circumspection, but without forcing anything and striving for sincere naturalness. The sense of their coming together in an impromptu and, at the same time, meditated search for a common feeling is told in this interview available on YouTube. "Kora Meets Pipa" is the first stage of this mutual understanding, as if to probe the common ground, the meeting point between traditions and expressive freedom, which continues with the title track, "House of Friendship", where the conversation between instruments becomes tighter and virtuosic phrasings are interwoven. The following "Sun Rising" is a superlative improvisation starting from the reinterpretation of a southern Chinese folk melody, yet "Between Stars" arouses gasps, a theme created directly in the studio without preambles, of which Hong says, "as if we were stars aligning perfectly in the sky, filling hearts with wonder and inspiration.” Here, the phrasing of the lute adorns the exquisite rhythmic-melodic gait of the harp-lute. Even the following "Taking it Easy", with a more reflective physiognomy, has a clear Mandinka imprint. The nature of the dialogue between two masterful artists as they search for complementarity tonal centers while carefully listening to each other can be seen both in "Song of Love" and in "Fulani Blues.” The first has a Chinese character, marked by the wisdom of the joints and from a marked rhythmic imprint, and the second from the exploration of the pentatonic commonalities between China and the land of the Fulani, in southern Senegal. The two offer an essay of technical finesse and individual sharpness, indulging in two solo episodes. In "Luck" the kora is soloist in a piece whose title, "Harjeh", translates to a Mandinka word used in Senegal or in sub-Saharan West Africa when he prays for good things for others, while in "My Musical Journey,” a pipa solo track, Hong celebrates her silver wedding on her instrument of choice, showing off remarkable technique that never lacks communicativeness. Already evident in the title "Joyful World," is the expression of the ethos of the dialogue between Gao and Kadialy, which comes to fruition with a motif that takes on an effervescent structure in the combination of styles. Beauty flows freely throughout this disc of great class. - Ciro De Rosa

Review From Netherlands

“They play music that is about camaraderie, where people listen to each other and express themselves honestly. This is how friendship should be, and sums up the relationship Gao and Kadialy have formed since the creation of this project. The album Terri Kunda shows what can be achieved when complementary forces come together. It shines a light on the new possibilities that can arise when people from all cultures open their hearts to each other.”

Terri Kunda: Gao Hong (pipa) in dialogue with kora player Kadialy Kouyate

If this new album (on the label ARC) may lack the meditative depths and burning passion of Gao Hong’s collaborations with Syrian ud player Issam Rafea, the duets she plays with London-based kora player/singer Kadialy Kouyate on this cd are still very alluring, beautifully poised, constantly pleasing and warm. The encounter between folk sounds from China and folk sounds from Kadialy’s native Senegal resulted in fresh and sincere music, at times playful and upbeat, but also in its more subdued moments wonderfully expressive, as if nothing could be more natural than Chinese and African idioms merging. But that may be misleading, for the two musical worlds are really far apart, and it took these two seasoned performers a while to adjust to one another during their studio sessions. They first made their acquaintance via a zoom call, after Gao Hong had expressed a wish to play together with kora, which she had never done before.The ultimate outcome of their collaboration includes some wonderful dialogues, as well as some nicely contrasted solos. Nothing in this album feels forced or strained. The cd is aptly titled Terri Kunda, which translates as ‘House of Friendship’. Clearly most of what Kadialy and Gao Hong play has its roots in improvisation, but the pieces are well-crafted, resulting in such highlights as ‘Kora meets pipa’ (the splendid opening track, ) and the beautifully reflective ‘Taking it Easy’. Connoisseurs of Chinese folk tunes will be pleased to hear some familiar tunes pass by in a (particularly rhythmically) unusual perspective, as in Sun Rising and Song of Love. The album ends with the riveting ‘Joyful World’. An appealing cd that wets the appetite for more! - Frank Kouwenhoven

Review From Russia

Russia “Jazz Quad” translated by Google:

China and West Africa. What common ground can be found here? For centuries, the cultures of these regions developed separately, faced problems that were completely different from each other. But today the world has changed. And because of this, we can listen to an amazing album where pipa and kora are played simultaneously, string instruments from such different regions, on an album created by Minnesota-based Gao Hong from China and London-based Kadialy Koyate from Senegal.

Both of these names should be familiar to readers of our site. Gao Hong is considered today as one of the world's best performers on the Chinese 4-string lute, the pipa. The album Hunting Eagles Catching Swans recorded by her with her respected teacher Lin Shicheng (we wrote about it when it was re-released in 2020 by ARC Music) received two gold medals from the Global Music. (This album has also won two gold medals from the Global Music Awards in the Duo and Instrumentalist categories). Gao has toured all over the world. She enjoys and is very interested in experiments that combine Chinese music with the music from other cultures (she has "intruded" into the world of African American jazz, Jewish klezmer, bluegrass and many others), so for her to contact Kadialy while in London and propose that they collaborate was to some extent logical. Kadialy Koyate comes from a family of hereditary griots, singer-storytellers among the peoples of West Africa (he himself is from the Mandinka people), He is a virtuoso performer on the traditional 21-string kora and has performed in many countries and participated in various multicultural projects (we reviewed an album by his international group Rafiki Jazz).

Gao Hong's call was the impetus for Kadialy’s appearance of the album Terri Kunda (in translation - "House of Friendship"). The work was not easy. As Gao recalls, “We realized in the studio that there were more problems than we had imagined. When I have worked with other instrumentalists and other artists, the melody always came first, although the musical scales could be very different. But rhythm reigns in African music.” However, the album also included completely improvised compositions, like “Between Stars” and attempts to find a common musical language (starting Kora Meets Pipa), and solo pieces by each of the duet members (“My Musical Journey” by Gao Hong and “Luck” by Kadialy Koyate), and excellent examples of the synthesis of music from two cultures (“Sun Rising”, “Fulani Blues”). According to Gao, "Our music will not be Chinese or Senegalese, it will be a new form of world music that combines the styles and characteristics of music from two continents." - Leonid Auskren

Hunting Eagles Catch Swans - Chinese Pudong Music

Lin Shicheng and Gao Hong

中国琵琶《海青拿天鹅》 - 一代宗师林石城与高足高虹演奏

2021 Global Music Award - Best Album and Instrumental Gold Medals

Songlines Magazine's pick for"The Best New Albums from Around the World"


A truly historic recording, among the last ever made by pipa master Lin Shicheng, in duet with his
student Gao Hong. Featuring a never-before-heard rendition of the Chinese evergreen Moonlight Over
the Spring River, this selection of songs showcases a rarely-seen virtuosity of the pipa and command of
Chinese musical tradition.

Review from the U.K.

To read the full Article

The album starts in lively fashion with the Jiangnan sizhu ‘Three Six’ – the uncommon duo pipa arrangementdrawing out all of the  counterpoint the tune has to offer. The solo ‘Autumn Thoughts’ is of a starker, more contemplative mood, with Lin Shicheng’s deft left hand vibrato evoking a disquieted mind on a tranquil night. Gao Hong is given her own space to shine, particularly on the stunning performance of ‘Dragon Boat’, in which the pipa conjures the excitement of a boat race by imitating the sounds of gongs and drums. The album closes with an arrangement of the famous wen (civil) style piece ‘Moonlight Over the Spring River’, here adapted for pipa and zhongruan. Recorded in a single, unedited take, this is the only recording of this arrangement of the piece, and serves as a capstone to an essential document of pipa mastery.

Review from the U.S:

"Two of China’s finest pipa players have released Hunting Eagles Catching Swans. The recording is a historical, symbolic album highlighting one of the greatest pipa (Chinese lute) masters of all time: Lin Shicheng. The album features dazzling duo interplay and prodigiously performed solo pieces as well".- World Music Central - Angel Romero

"It is a fascinating example of Chinese traditional chamber sounds, something to hear repeatedly, as is the entire album, filled with subtlety and drama, some of the strongest traditions of world string playing at its very best... And most importantly it is a marvelous example of the interplay of two pipa virtuosi of the highest caliber, with Shicheng and Gao Hong in perfect synchrony, giving forth with a tremendously vital dual artistry.” - Gapplegate Guitar and Bass Blog by Grego Edward

Review from Westzeit Germany:

"Whoever - for whatever reason - gets on your nerves with the whole Christmas groaning this year, one way to calm yourself down is with the exotic but fascinating “Chinese Pudong Pipa Music", which LIN SHICHENG and GAO HONG bring together under the beautiful title "Hunting Eagles Catching Swans". Over an hour of classical Chinese lute music that is really worth listening to from Master Shicheng (the "Ravi Shankar of the Pipa" - on one of his last recordings as he died in 2005) and his favorite student.”

Review from Italy

"Lin Schicheng and Gao Hong have fidelity, originality and inventiveness in their fingers with which to masterfully blend cultured and popular in a performance-testimony that flows brilliantly from the first to the last note. - Ciro De Rosa 

Review from Russia

“Chinese music for pipa performed at the highest level.” - Leonid AUSKERN

Order CD Here Directly from the Artists with Signature $18 - Including Shipping

"From Our World to Yours" - Gao Hong and Issam Rafea Duo

Two Gold Medals from the 2020 Global Music Awards -Best Album and Instrumentals"

Order CD Here Directly from the Artists with Signature $18 (- Including Shipping or Order CD Here

Review from the U.K:

From Our World to Yours - Gao Hong and Issam Rafae Duo

Another Excellent Instalmenta

"... A mood of deep contemplation and gentle is retained, with the sonorous low-end of the oud blending wonderfully with the weeping tremolo of the pipa. Although on this recording, the duo allows room for more abstract experimentation, often verging on the avant-garde.
In pieces such as 'Outer Space' and 'Robot', both players eke a vast array of textures from their instruments cascades of bell-like harmonics collide with string scrapes, and on-body percussion - creating brief moments of atonal impressionism. These exploratory passages are always tempered by emotional pathos- especially during the forlorn counterpoint of 'A Mother's Plea' - and playful levity, as displayed on 'Joyful Dance'. The chemistry between Gao Hong and Issam Rafea is never less than impeccable, and this recording serves as the next instalment in a fascinating ongoing conversation."

For full review please click here

Review from Sweden:

"... Incredibly beautiful atmospheres, where oud and pipa marry in a seamless way...'Touching" and "enriching", is the word. - Something that can be said to apply to the entire album..."

For full review please click here

Review from France:

"... the duo’s discussions are often in a language all their own, spacious, expressive, and convincing. The nice, dry, open sound of the live recording allows an excellent appreciation of the dynamics, timbres, and particularly the percussive possibilities that Hong and Rafea enthusiastically exploit"

For full reviw please click here

Review from Italy:

"... The duo's music reveals a surprisingly engaging harmonious. sound full of colors with great evocative and contemplative effect...Seamlessly, without failing, "From our World to Yours" is an admirable conversation between masters

For full review please click here

Review from the U.S:

"It is the most productive of cultural exchanges, a true bridging of two venerable traditions via two brilliant exponents. The masterful Gao Hong and Issam Rafea leave us with a most pleasurable and striking synergy on From Our World to Yours. It is a triumph of the globalized world we live in today, perhaps almost unimaginable 100 years ago. That it took place is cause for appreciation; that it is as brilliant as it is comes out of the sheer musical inventiveness and exceptional openness of the two artists involved. Bravo!."

For the full review please click here

From Our World to Yours: Gao Hong and Issam Rafea Improvise Vibrant Soundworlds

"From Our World to Yours is a powerful corrective to such a narrative—it shows us a vibrant living tradition, open to new ideas and interpretations."

For the full review please click here

For more informationa and reviews

"Life As Is" - Issam rafea and Gao Hong Duo

Winner of the 2018 Global Music Award Silver Medal- Outstanding Album Award

Gao Hong


"Pipa Potluck-Lutes Around the World" - Gao Hong and Friends -

A star-studded CD featuring two Grammy-winning performers
Winner of the 2016 Global Music Award Silver Medal- Outstanding Album Award
Original Composition "Green Willow Tree" 2016 Global Music Award Silver Medal
- Outstanding Achievement for Instrumental Music
- Nominated in the World Beat Album Category for in The 15th Annual Independent Music Awards

gao Hong New CDGao Hong

For more info about the musicians please click the picture

Review from U.K:

Pipa Potluck - Lutes Around The World

"The interplay between Gao Hong and the other musicians is impeccable, evidencing an intimate personal connection and, crucially, an overriding sense of joy…
There are no weak moments, as each of the collaborators brings remarkable sensitivity and taste and it is a credit to Hong's range as an instrumentalist that she can shift between styles with such apparent effortlessness."
Charlie Cawood

"Pipa Potluck (Innova 916) by Gao Hong & Friends isn't the first album of pipa duets with other stringed instruments, but it may turn out to be the benchmark. Gao Hong is joined by an illustrious selection of musical friends that include Alison Brown (banjo), Darol Anger (fiddle) and George Kahumoku Jr. Cluck Old Hen sets the tone as a stately barnyard strut and there's some nice interplay between pipa and slack-key guitar on The Source Of The Spring Water. Gao's own playing is both sensitive and subtle: particularly on the opening passages of Green Willow Tree before it segues into bluegrass. Her duets with the oud players Yair Dalal and Bassam Saba are a particular highlight, and the pipa- oud combination gives a somewhat Greek feel to their version of Longa Nahawand."

Review from Italy:

Gao Hong and Friends: "Pipa Potluck - Lutes Around the World in the company of a group of fine musicians, united by craftsmanship, string instruments and led by Gao Hong, pipa virtuoso, ancient instrument with four strings of Chinese origin, whose sound is close to that of the mandolin, but it has a really unique reverb round, which invades the space sound so unique and fascinating. But space, Gao Hong is pleased to share with her fellow adventurers, who, with their guitars, banjo, fiddle, oud and percussion give color combinations that evoke the different cultures of your tracks, ranging from bluegrass to Eastern tradition and Arabic, lead track. The interplay between the musicians, especially among the tools most similar, is extremely well together; the interweaving of melodies mellow and catchy rhythms irresistible. Listening experience life and imbued with human warmth." (★★★★)

Review from U.S:

"An excellent example of the convergent possibilities can be found in the recent album...Gao and her friends produce a remarkable series of pieces that call upon traditions and create new music as well that combines such traditions in unprecedented ways...This is a wonderful tribute to the flexibility of Gao Hong's musical approach and of course of all of her friends. We are treated to unusual combinations of Chinese, bluegrass, Hawaiian and Mid-Eastern music. Throughout we get some marvelous playing and some ingenious multi-cultural adaptations. It is great fun and seriously good fusion of the true sort. Do not hesitate to get this. It's one-of-a-kind and a fabulous listen."

The serene "Lutes Around The World" finishes the album with poignant strings and delightful melodies. Fans of strings, lutes, Chinese folk, neo-classical, new age, bluegrass, Arabic, folk, Americana, and world music in general will love to sample Pipa Potluck. Remember to leave room on your plate for additional listens! ~ Matthew Forss

"Gao Hong's friends are well known virtuoso instrumentalists in their respective genres so there is an abundance of mesmerizing interplay."

"Pipa Potluck" ranked in the top 10 in several world music charts in the U.S. and Canada. Musician and author Ted Gioia - who has been called "one of the outstanding music historians in America” - listened to over 1000 CDs in all styles and genres before determining “The 100 Best Albums of 2015.”  “Pipa Potluck” received an Honorable Mention as a “recording of distinction” alongside CDs by Itzhak Perlman & Emanuel Ax, Terry Riley, Canned Heat with John Lee Hooker, Queen Latifah, and Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard. Her “Cluck Old Hen” track was listed in Gioia’s “My 201 Favorite Tracks of 2015” that also included selections from Adele, Bob Dylan, Kendrick Lamar, Kronos Quartet, Weather Report and others.

Gao Hong CD

Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream - New Chinese Pipa Music by Gao Hong

Price: $18 (including Shipping) To Listen the music click Here

The pipa stringed instrument has been a fixture of traditional Chinese music for many centuries. More like a guitar (it has a neck, for example) in construction than a koto, in the right hands it has a delicate resonance that distinguishes it from any other. Gao Hong certainly has the right hands.

Gao also has a conceptual mind that dares to compose and arrange music that brings the traditional Chinese instrument into a musical world it has not inhabited before. Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream (Innova 240) is quite an achievement. Gao plays with a real virtuoso's mastery. She has for this album created six quite varied musical contexts. She can be found playing a fascinating Chinese-Indian hybrid, a contemporary-improvisation-meets-Chinese-meets-Japanese-Taiko-drumming piece, in a quasi-Western-classical mode, and in a solo context where the pipa tradition is invoked with sensitivity and musical bravura.

I've certainly never heard anything like this one before. What's most impressive is not so much that she attempts these unusual and unprecedented stylistic syzygys. It's that the resulting music wholly succeeds; so much so that it even sounds like a natural and inevitable thing that's been happening for centuries, which of course it has not.

I can't say enough nice things about this one. If you want to branch off onto a quite different musical path, listen to this one. It's rather incredible really.

More review around the World:

“Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream” is Hong’s first album featuring her own compositions. This virtuoso composed nearly every piece on the album, and her music seethes with passion and virility even as it typifies artistic delicacy and restraint.

The instrumentation is superb. Far from becoming a reckless mishmash of varied ethnicities, the instruments complement, balance, and enhance one other. The first composition, “Butterfly,” is an ecstatic interplay of cello, voice, veena, tabla, and pipa. The title track is a blissfully enchanting duet between the pipa and the sitar (played by Joseph Schad).

“Courage” and “Celebration” are both Hong’s tributes to her daughter Alida, the survivor of a long and painful struggle with leukemia. But these are far from the sentimental rhapsodies one might expect in response to this subject. Manic voices and driving, aggressive percussion signify a strength and determination that’s jarringly beautiful.

Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream manifests six of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for music well worth a listen: 1) it is authentic, original, and delightful; 2) it makes me want to be a better artist; 3) it gives me tools which help me be a better artist; 4) it displays an engagement with and compassionate response to suffering; 5) it inspires an awareness of the sanctity of creation; and 6) it provides respite from a sick and cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavour.

“Gao Hong shows with these projects a renewal of Chinese music tradition, ready for the world to embrace. I have the impression a new territory has been shown as a new way by Gao Hong. I hope it leads to a path where more Chinese musicians are able to show what is possible to introduce themselves more easily into the world.”

“Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream” is representative of her newest accomplishments. She herself composed most of the pieces in the album, depicting not only the extreme hardships and bitters, but also memories about the happiness and peace of life. She also expresses her pursuit of dreams, in which mysterious colorful clouds dye the whole sky. It is very fortunate that Gao Hong has performed and fully appreciated the essence of this precious piece of folk music, while adding her own distinct touch.”

That the pipa player Gao Hong has long lived in the US is evident in this collection, which reveals a depth of multiculturalism and synthesis of elements from India and Japan rarely found in her native China. All of the instruments recorded here are nicely up-front and resonant. The players themselves combine solid traditional technique with 21-century musical vision.

The title-track is a fine sonic painting of nature, combining Indian and Chinese plucked strings to great effect. The music is mesmerizing without resorting to clichés.

The standout track here is “Celebration” a work commissioned by the Jerome Foundation. In addition to their virtuosic display of drumming and strumming techniques, the musicians join in vocally, with a veritable vocabulary of phonemes communicating unbridled joyfulness.

“One of the true virtuosos of the World Music scene… Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream is filled with meditative serene soundscapes and serves as an audio visit to the Far East.”
MWE3 Record Label Spotlight                                              

“On Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream, Gao Hong offers a bold vision of how the pipa (a Chinese four stringed lute-like instrument) can be used in novel cross-cultural musical fusions… the blending of the pipa and veena creates a lush and exotic pan-Asian confection.”
Driftwood Music Magazine

“The project is innovative and bold, yet sensitive and delicate. It combines Gao Hong’s virtuosic pipa performance with her seasoned musical creativity. It also builds inter-cultural links that explore musical extremes with a sense of belonging for everyone.”
Victor Fung, Professor of University of South Florida and Director of Center for Music Education Research

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pipa master Lin Shicheng and Gao Hong

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