Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde

Chinese Pipa Meets Flamenco Guitar

Listen to the Album:

Album Release Date : February 23rd, 2024

New Classical Tracks (extended interview) on America Public Media/MPR

Album Trailer

Reviews:

From Russia

“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 indifferent..." - JazzQuad

From India

"...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 imaginations." - Serenade Magazine

From the US

"...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. " - Alastair Johnston!

From Japan

A unique duo collaboration between Chinese pipa virtuoso Gao Hong and Argentine flamenco guitarist Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde, the beautiful album "Alondra" blends music from both ends of the Eurasian continent. Influenced by jazz, flamenco, Argentine music, and Chinese music, the album offers a diverse range of performances.

Tracks such as the meditative "Skylark Call," the intriguing fusion of flamenco guitar technique and tremolo on the pipa in "Prayer," the evocative "Song of the Nomads" reminiscent of pastoral highland landscapes, and the Cuban habanera-influenced tango "La Paloma" showcase enchanting musical compositions.

Born from serendipitous encounters, this album reflects a one-of-a-kind meeting of different cultures. It encapsulates the fascinating and wonderful aspects of playing musical instruments and creating music. - Musica Terra

From Australia

It might seem an unlikely combination, but a US-based Chinese virtuoso of pipa (pear-shaped lute) and a UK-based flamenco guitarist of Argentinian and Italian heritage strike a surprisingly harmonious partnership on a relatively impromptu duo album recorded at London's legendary Abbey Road Studios. Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde's penchant for cross-cultural musical collaboration serves them well as they consummately blend seemingly disparate genres and influences, the latter's compas (flamenco rhythms) and falsetas (short melodies) providing a solid framework for Hong's tremelo work and improvised breaks. The symbiosis peaks on pieces inspired by the Andalusian communities of Triana and Ronda. - Rhythm Music Magzine

From Belgium 

When you bring together two internationally recognized and highly acclaimed musicians, it may not always, but regularly yield surprising and fascinating results. The prerequisite for this is that the musicians must be willing to step out of their comfort zone and be completely carried away by the setting in which they find themselves.

Starting with Gao Hong: she might not be the most immediately recognizable Chinese musician, although over her forty-year career, she has graced almost every major stage worldwide, showcasing her mastery of the pipa, the pear-shaped Chinese lute. More than just "highly educated," she has evolved, especially since moving to the United States, into a versatile composer and globally respected author of method books, explaining in detail how to play the pipa. She delved into nearly all genres featuring string instruments, from jazz to klezmer and pop music. For many European music enthusiasts worldwide, she came on the radar through her collaboration with the Senegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyaté, and their "Terri Kunda" album won numerous awards. Following these accolades, she had the opportunity to record at the renowned Abbey Road Studios in London. Not wanting to create a mere remake of the kora-pipa album, she sought a different musical companion, finding him in the Argentine flamenco guitarist Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde. Today, he is known as one of the most renowned guitarists of his time, and Gao Hong's invitation certainly did not fall on deaf ears.

This album is the result of an intense collaboration, where you can immediately hear that both musicians completely open up to each other: Monteverde had a few things ready, and when he played them in the studio, Gao immediately joined in, resulting in the opener "Skylark Call." The lark's call would become the thread running through the entire album, connecting classical Chinese melodies like "Longing for my Lover" with a classic like "La Paloma." This is no easy task, considering that both instruments, while originating from the oud, use very different tonalities and scales. Many musicians would get lost in this challenge, but these two masters consistently found ways to meet each other, whether through a composition by Monteverde, as in "On the Clock" or "Prayer," or through Gao's work written for a TV series, "Made in China." Whether it happens across the Bering Strait or along the Silk Road, people can meet each other, and from those encounters, the most beautiful new things can emerge. This delightful album, recorded in less than a week, is yet another testament to that. Music like this makes a person believe again in what seems unattainable for many – that things might still turn out well in this world! Not to be missed! (Dani Heyvaert) Rootstime.Be

 

A "Fairytale" Story


This is a "fairytale" story of how I got to record an album at Abbey Road Studios in London, just three days after we met this summer. A wonderful singer/pianist Vivian Fang Liu asked me to record a track for her upcoming album. When she asked me to do the recording I was out of town in Seattle. She wanted me to record my tracks as soon as possible, but I had to head to London straight after, so she asked me to record there. One of her dreams has always been to record in Abbey Road Studios. Since she couldn’t be in London, she allowed me to fulfill my dream. She checked with Abbey Road and learned they required a minimum of a full 10-hour recording session to book a studio. She told me she’d try to find another studio in London to record in. When I got off my plane in London, I checked my email and discovered she had gone ahead and booked Abbey Road Studios for a 10-hour session to record her song, since her song would only take a couple hours to record, she was so sweet and generous and told me I could use the rest of the time to do anything I wanted!

I first thought I would do a solo recording of improvisations and some of my own compositions. But then I realized it was such an incredible opportunity for me to work with another artist from London. So, I wrote to ARC’s CEO and asked if he could recommend an artist for me to collaborate and improvise with and record an album. In 2021 I recorded an album with Senegalese kora player Kadialy Kouyate that got wonderful reviews and airplay worldwide and won two gold medals from the Global Music Awards. Because of the success of this album I discovered how great a pleasure it was to work with such amazing artists. The ARC CEO got back to me within an hour and sent me a list and websites of incredible artists from Iran, India and other countries. I chose Ignacio because I had never worked with a flamenco guitarist before and felt that would be the biggest challenge for me. I love to take risks.

So there we were with less than a week before we had to record our album in Abbey Road Studios and we hadn’t even met each other. Three days before our recording session, we had a Zoom session and talked about what might be possible. We later went to a studio just to find out what our music might sound like. We started playing together and immediately realized that we had some similarities but so many differences in our playing styles. After talking and playing, the third day we went into the studio and recorded our album in six hours.

So here is one of my most exciting collaborations. It has been a great honor to collaborate with Ignacio and work again with ARC Music! I love to collaborate with musicians from different cultures throughout the world. I always believe that music has no boundaries. My concept for such collaborations is to blend each other’s music together. I want the music we create to bring people together. On this album, our music is not specifically from China or Argentina. It combines elements and musical languages from both of our roots into a new one-of-a-kind musical expression.