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「The Master Visit」 Celebrating World Heritage

- Issam Rafea -Leonard Jacome-Gao Hong-Yazhi Guo -

【Concert Preview】Yazhi Guo, President of the American Academy of World Music and an internationally renowned wind music master, will launch "The Master Visit" concert series again! This time we will welcome the internationally renowned pipa master Gao Hong at 8:00 p.m. on April 8. She will also join hands with Syrian Oud master Issam Rafea and Leonard Jacome, a virtuoso on the electronic Venezuelan harp which he invented. Gao Hong and Yazhi Guo are classmates, and both artists are top students who graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music. This is their first joint performance in Boston and will bring local fans a rare one-of-a-kind experience not to be missed! Let us feel the artistic charm of the master up close and witness the integration of world music cultures.


Gao Hong

Gao Hong graduated from Beijing's elite Central Conservatory of Music. Since coming to the U.S., she has performed at the Lincoln Center Festival, Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian, and at festivals in Paris, Caen, Milan, and Perth. She has presented concerti for the pipa with the Minnesota Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Heidelberg Philharmonic, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, China National Traditional Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, and Hawaii Symphony, among others. She was the first Chinese musician to play the National Anthem at an NBA basketball game when she did so on pipa for the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.

Gao has received numerous top awards and honors in China and the U.S. In 2005 she became the first traditional musician to be awarded a prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2019 she became the only musician in any genre to win five McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. As a Sally Award winner, Gao Hong was honored at the Ordway Center for her commitment to the arts. She is the author of

the first pipa method book written in English that was published and distributed worldwide by Hal Leonard.

Two of Gao's most recent recordings were awarded gold medals by the Global Music Awards in the Best Album and Best Instrumentalist categories. One was with her late teacher, Lin Shicheng, and the other with her Gao Hong and Issam Rafea Duo. The Duo was also chosen out of over 3000 entries by indie star Phoebe Bridgers to appear on NPR’s Tiny Desk Top Shelf Contest #2 episode.

As a composer, Gao has received commissions from the Minnesota Orchestra, American Composers Forum, Minnesota Sinfonia, Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis, Walker Art Center, Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala Dance Theater, Theater Mu, IFTPA, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, The Cedar, SEMAC, and TPT-PBS. Recently, a new short film produced by The Minnesota Orchestra and

Ashleigh Rowe starring Gao Hong was nominated for an Upper Midwest Emmy Award in the Short Form Content division of the Arts & Entertainment category. The short film is titled “Gao Hong: Composer and Pipa Player.”

In 2022, Mayor Melvin Carter of St. Paul proclaimed April 3, 2022 to be “Gao Hong Day in the City of St. Paul” in honor of her milestone concert at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts celebrating her “50 YEARS OF MAKING MUSIC WITH FRIENDS.” Several pieces from this concert were featured on "Performance Today" hosted by Fred Child.

Gao teaches at Carleton College where she is director of the Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble and Global Music Ensemble. She is also Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, China Conservatory of Music, and Tianjin Conservatory of Music. She is a board member for the American Composers Forum, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts; and a Recording Academy Voting Member for the Grammys as well as an Advisor to the Board for the Academy’s Chicago Chapter.

Issam Rafea

Issam Rafea is a Syrian musician, music director and composer, noted for his compositions and performances on the Arabic oud. Winner of the 2010 “Best Composer Award” in Dubai International Film Festival (Muhr Arab). Rafea was Chair of the Arabic Music Department at the High Institute of Music in Damascus and the principal conductor of the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music from 2003- 2013, as well as the co-founder for the contemporary Arabic music groups “Hewar” and “Twais Quartet.” Since then, Rafea has directed the Middle Eastern Music Ensemble at Northern Illinois University School of Music; became an artist-in-residence at Carleton College; presented workshops and performances across the globe; and collaborated with artists like Gao Hong, “Gorillaz”, Fareed Haque, the Syrian National Orchestra, and many more.

Leonard Jacome

Leonard Jacome is an award-winning Venezuelan harpist, multi-instrumentalist and composer who has devoted his career to the development of a contemporary identity for the Venezuelan Harp. He is the inventor of the Venezuelan Electric Harp that was manufactured by Camac-Harps of France, and has created new pedagogical learning strategies and his own unprecedented methods and techniques for playing the Latin American harp. For his solo performances in international harp festivals Jacome has finished in first place six times and has been featured in renowned harp competitions in Wales, Ireland, Austria, France, Paraguay, Colombia, Moscow, and London. International tours have also included performances and lectures on the history of Venezuelan music in Japan, the U.S., Sweden, and South Africa, and world premieres of his compositions with MPO Big Band Jazz and the Malaysian Philharmonic in Kuala Lampur.

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