Birge's Picks

Gao Hong: A Pipa Odyssey

Gao Hong plays the pipa, a lute-like Chinese instrument.Provided

Birge's Picks - Gao Hong


March 28, 2022

In 1972, the world watched as Richard Nixon became the first U.S. president to visit China. Meanwhile, 500 miles south in Luoyang, a little girl named Gao Hong began her musical journey playing the traditional Chinese lute called the pipa. Her talents would take her around the world, eventually bringing her to make a home in Minnesota.

Last month, the Minnesota Orchestra’s Lunar New Year Concert featured something extraordinary, Gao Hong’s new Pipa Concerto. But, she has a bigger milepost ahead this weekend at the Ordway in Saint Paul. It’s a concert celebration of her 50th anniversary as a pipa player. In honor of the occasion, this Friday morning at 8:45 a.m. on YourClassical MPR, I’ll share a conversation that Minnesota Orchestra host Melissa Ousley had with Gao Hong, in which she demonstrates the pipa’s incredible range of expression, from tears to laughter.