Poster Gao Hong
Gao Hong presents her latest album in collaboration with flamenco guitarist Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde, 'Alondra.'
New Classical Tracks®

Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde improvise together on their new album

New Classical Tracks (extended interview) - Gao Hong
New Classical Tracks - Gao Hong
New Classical Tracks - March 27, 2024

Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde – Alondra (Naxos)

So now this special pipa, the head, you can take it off, which makes this pipa much smaller. That's because of a special order,” pipa player Gao Hong says. “So on the top there is a beautiful dragon because I was born the year of the dragon and as it happens this Lunar New Year is also the dragon year. So it's very, very special for me.”

Hong has been playing the pipa for 52 years. Three of her instruments suffered casualties on different airlines. That’s why now she travels and performs with her custom-made instrument. Her roots with the instrument go way back to the cultural revolution in China.

“My mom was a music teacher and my father was a landowner during the cultural revolution, which means they were blacklisted,” she says. “So right away during the cultural revolution, my mom was worried that I would have to go to the countryside. So she forced me to play the pipa.

“At the age of 12, I became a professional musician. So when I was in a dance and singing troupe, I would get up early in the morning. In the winter, I would go to a furnace room. And because it was so cold and so dirty I would have a mask. So when you take off your mask, I go to breakfast at 7 a.m. and my face looked like a cat. So that's why I had the nickname Black Kitten.”

This is a recording you made with flamenco guitarist Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde. How did you meet?

“That's absolutely a fairy tale. I asked the CEO of Naxos Records, ’Could you please see if you can have any musicians who would like to improvise with me?’ So we met three days before we went to Abbey Road. We kind of had a quick moment to figure out, ‘What do we do?’ So in six hours, we finished the whole album.”

The title of the recording is Alondra, and in Spanish that means “Skylark.” Why is this bird the perfect totem of inspiration for this recording?

“When I started looking for an artist, the producer said, ‘You're just like a skylark, just looking everywhere in the early morning. You just grab whatever you find.’ I said, ‘Yes, I want to do something I have never done before and take a risk.’ If I did it right, that would be actually so rewarding. If not, at least, it would be a learning moment.

“Ignacio had this idea of this skylark style, like a bird call, and we just did that. We improvised based on the melody. I always say that Chinese people are almost like a butterfly or like a bird. That's how the Asian melody is, as well.”


Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde – Alondra (Naxos)

Gao Hong and Ignacio Lusardi Monteverde – Alondra (Amazon)

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