Gao to perform at gala
Faculty violinist Xiang Gao to perform at Washington National Opera event
1:16 p.m., March 29, 2011----University of Delaware faculty violinist Xiang Gao and his crossover duet 6ixwire Project will be featured May 7 as the Washington National Opera, housed in the Kennedy Center, holds its most significant annual fundraiser, the Opera Ball.
Cited as the highlight of all social and philanthropic events in the nation's capital, the 2011 Opera Ball will attract 700-plus generous music patrons, business leaders and VIP guests from all over the world.
A model of leadership
Gao and his concert partner, Chinese erhu master Cathy Yang, will perform to pay tribute to Washington National Opera general director and world famous opera sensation Placido Domingo and his 15-year tenure with the company.
In 2009, Gao founded the crossover duet with Yang. They will be performing classical music arranged for the duet by Gao as a tribute to maestro Domingo. They will also continue with crossover jazz and rock music.
The Opera Ball will be hosted under the patronage of Zhang Yesui, Chinese ambassador to the U.S., and his wife Chen Naiqing. The Opera Ball will be chaired by Susan E. Lehrman, the Washington philanthropist who has also chaired the event the past three years.
Celebrating the rich cultural heritage of China, the highly anticipated event will begin with intimate dinners hosted by embassies throughout the city, followed by performances and dancing at the Chinese chancery.
Gao, professor in UD's Department of Music, said the 6ixwire Project brings together two of the essential musical instruments from East and West, the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin, and the Western violin.
Thousands of years ago, most bowed string instruments originated in Persia, he said, and it is believed that during the Silk Road period one traveled to Europe and became the four stringed violin while the other went to China and became the most popular solo instrument in Asia, the two stringed erhu.
The instruments were reunited with the formation of the 6ixwire Project in 2009.This world-class ensemble's repertoire covers original and arranged compositions of all styles from Western classical to Jazz and rock to bring the Eastern and Western cultures together in creative concert productions for the contemporary international audience.
Among the orchestras that 6ixwire Project members have solo performed with in recent seasons are the Detroit Symphony; the Czech Philharmonic, the Gothenburg Symphony-National Orchestra of Sweden, the Estonia National Symphony, the Mexico State Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, Aspen Music Festival orchestras, the Knoxville Symphony among others.
The 6ixwire Project is frequently featured in live concerts on China's CCTV for television audiences that number more than one billion viewers worldwide.
In 2010, 6ixwire Project successfully premiered Sleep now, O Earth, the theme song composed by founding member Gao for the U.S. celebration concert of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
This year, 6ixwire Project will appear in multiple cities in China, performing at such prestigious concert venues as the National Performing Art Center in Beijing and the Shanghai Grand Theatre, among others.
Recognized as one of the world's most successful performing artists of his generation from China, Gao has been cited by The New York Times as "a rare and soulful virtuoso.”
He has performed for many world leaders, and recently was a featured soloist for Chinese President Hu JinTao and the visiting King Carlos I of Spain. His musical integrity and virtuoso technique have gained accolades from audiences and reviewers around the world.
Gao is professor of music at UD and the ZiJiang Professor of Music at the East China Normal University in Shanghai.
In 2007, the Stradivari Society in Chicago selected Gao to be a recipient of world famous Stradivarius violins for his international solo concerts.
As a jazz singer, keyboardist, songwriter and composer, Gao is also the founding artistic director of two non-profit music organizations in the U.S., the University of Delaware Master Players Concert Series and the China Music Foundation.
In addition to being an erhu virtuoso, Yang is also a guzheng (Chinese zither) soloist and a professor of music at the China Contemporary Cultural Academy.
Yang has performed as a soloist at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, among other major concert halls in the U.S.
Besides her frequent concert appearances in China, in 2005 she appeared as an erhu and guzheng soloist in Nike Morris's Wheel of Life in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the West End's Peacock Theater in London.
The Chinese government has chosen Yang many times as a cultural ambassador to perform in Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Los Angeles and other cities.
In May 2008, while visiting the U.S., she performed as a soloist before thousands of New York Mets fans at Shea Stadium. Yang was also a featured soloist during the 2008 Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, S.C.
Among the prestigious awards Yang has received in China are top prizes at the Long Yin Instrumental Competition, the Tian Hua erhu competition, the Chinese Ministry of Culture Annual Music Competition, and the Chinese National Cultural Foundation award.