Presented by Sonosphere in collaboration with Crosstown Arts
An interactive performance with Wu Fei, a genre-bending composer, guzheng virtuoso, and vocalist from Nashville — by way of Beijing. Wu Fei blends her Western and Chinese traditional sensibilities with a contemporary, idiosyncratic, experimental dialect as she performs original compositions on the guzheng, an ancient 21-string Chinese zither.
Tickets: $15 (purchase on Eventbrite)
Doors at 7:30 p.m. | Performance at 8 p.m.
About Wu Fei:
Wu Fei, a native of Beijing and a current Nashville resident, is a master of the guzheng, the ancient 21-string Chinese zither. She was trained as a Western classical composer, a vocalist, and plays beautifully in the guzheng’s vernacular — a musical language which is at least 2,000 years old. She mixes her Western and Chinese traditional sensibilities with a contemporary, idiosyncratic, experimental dialect nurtured by years spent at Mills College and immersed in the New York downtown improvisation scene which revolved around venues like The Stone, where Fei has frequently performed and curated.
Wu Fei composes for choir, string quartet, chamber ensemble, Balinese gamelan, and orchestra; her commissions range from a composition for Percussions Claviers de Lyon that premiered in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing to live performances in Paris and Tokyo for luxury brand Hermès.
In addition to her own original compositions, Fei has collaborated with many artists of different disciplines and genres ranging, from Béla Fleck to avant garde composer John Zorn. She has taken her guzheng and music around the world and touring highlights include composition premiere at the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, the MoMA in New York City, North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Vossa Jazz Festival in Norway, Europalia in Belgium, and the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville. Wu Fei was recently commissioned by Intersection Ensemble in Nashville to create new classical work for guzheng, voice, and western chamber ensemble which she titled If I Was A Batman Queen.
About the guzheng:
Wu Fei’s instrument, the guzheng, is more than 2,000 years old. It became prominent during the Qin Dynasty (221 to 206 BCE), and by the Tang Dynasty (618 CE to 907 CE), the guzheng was arguably the most commonly played instrument in China.
The guzheng has 21 strings, which were once made from silk but now they are almost always metal nylon which increase the instrument’s volume and timbre. There are many techniques used in the playing of the guzheng, including basic plucking actions (right or both hands) at the right portion and pressing actions at the left portion (by the left hand to produce pitch ornamentations and vibrato) as well as tremolo (right hand). These techniques of playing the guzheng can create sounds that can evoke the sense of a cascading waterfall, thunder, horses’ hooves, and even the scenic countryside.
Sonosphere is a Memphis-based podcast aimed at exploring sound in music and art movements through history and today.