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Wu Man’s New Album “Flow” with Kojiro Umezaki, Out February 19

Wu Man, “the world’s finest player of the pipa” (The New York Times), is joined by one of her Silkroad Ensemble bandmates, shakuhachi virtuoso Kojiro Umezaki, on a new album, Flow (流芳), released by In a Circle Records (ICR). The album is currently available for pre-order on Bandcamp (digital and physical) and will be available Friday, February 19, through Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and other major outlets.

Drawing upon folk tunes, contemporary styles, elements of improvisation, and the timbral interplay between these two ancient Chinese and Japanese instruments, the solo and duo works on this album are meant to evoke the changes of season in a traditional Eastern garden.

Wu Man said:
“The Chinese pipa and Japanese shakuhachi are two of the most important and recognizable instruments in the East Asian musical tradition. They both date back to ancient times, and each has its own unique story, sound world, performance techniques, and expressive charm… The shakuhachi has a distinctive sonority that always reminds me of autumn in Japan, while the lute-like pipa distinguishes itself through its characteristic tremolos and unique style of melodic ornamentation, among other qualities. Together, these two ancient musical instruments create a musical experience unlike any other.”

The music was originally composed by Ms. Wu and Mr. Umezaki for a video installation by Beijing-born visual artist Tang Qingnian.

The two artists explain:
“Not far from downtown Los Angeles lies Liu Fang Yuan, a spectacular 15-acre classical-style garden inspired by those in Suzhou, China, that is part of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens. In 2019, The Huntington commissioned Tang Qingnian to create a video installation [Fragrant Rhythms: The Seasons of Liu Fang Yuan] to commemorate the garden’s latest phase of expansion. The video, created as part of the Cheng Family Foundation Visiting Artist program, celebrates scenes from all four seasons in the garden, plus its ever-present landscaping of bamboo.”

Watch Fragrant Rhythms: The Seasons of Liu Fang Yuan 
(video by Tang Qingnian; music by Wu Man and Kojiro Umezaki)

Read the full press release.