Traditional Chinese music will be presented through a contemporary lens when the Shanghai Quartet, one of the world’s foremost chamber ensembles, joins pipa virtuoso Wu Man for “A Night in Ancient and New China” at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 6.

Presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech, the performance will be in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall. 

The Shanghai Quartet is known for blending Eastern and Western musical traditions, while Man is credited for introducing the pipa, a lute-like stringed Chinese musical instrument, to the Western world. Together, they will explore the music of China in a program that features a new multimedia work by Chinese composer Zhao Jiping in collaboration with his son, Zhoa Lin. “Red Lantern” is a quintet for pipa and string quartet based on Jiping’s film score for “Raise the Red Lantern.”

According to Lin, “Red Lantern” is a tribute to his father and the great tradition of music from China, inspired by the traditional Beijing Opera. Through a suite of stories that take place in a traditional courtyard through the centuries, it traces Chinese family relationships over time and the affect of the family’s isolation from society.

The program will include a suite of Chinese folk songs arranged by Shanghai Quartet second violinist Yi-Wen Jiang, solo pipa works by Man, and a chamber version of “Ghost Opera” composed by Tan Dun for string quartet and pipa. Dun is a Chinese contemporary classical composer and conductor who is most widely known for his scores for the movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

The Center for the Arts is offering two engagement events Nov. 6 in conjunction with the artists’ visit. At 10 a.m., the Shanghai Quartet will lead a master class for chamber music students. A lecture and demonstration, “The Music of Old and New China,” will be at 4 p.m. Participants will learn more about the variety of Chinese musical styles that will be featured during the evening performance. Both events will be in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre and are free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged. Call the Moss Arts Center box office at 540-231-5300 to register.

The center will host a Tweet Seats Master Class during the performance with select Virginia Tech students. Designed to provide students and faculty a new way to make connections and discoveries through the arts and introduce a new dimension to the class experience, this Twitter-based educational discussion will be led by Tracy Cowden, faculty chair of the Department of Music and associate professor of voice and piano.

Formed at the Shanghai Conservatory in 1983, the Shanghai Quartet is known for its passionate musicality, impressive technique, and multicultural innovations. Its style melds the delicacy of Eastern music with the emotional breadth of Western repertoire.

The quartet has worked with artists from around the world and regularly tours major music venues in Europe, North America, and Asia. The ensemble has more than 30 recordings, ranging from the Schumann and Dvorak piano quintets with Rudolf Buchbinder to Zhou Long’s “Poems from Tang” for string quartet and orchestra with the Singapore Symphony.

Recognized as both a master of the pipa and leading ambassador of Chinese music, Grammy Award-nominated musician Man has carved out a career as a soloist, educator, and composer, giving the pipa a new role in both traditional and contemporary music.

Through numerous concert tours, Man has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China’s ancient musical traditions. She was named Musical America’s 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, marking the first time this award has been given to a player of a non-Western instrument.


Tickets are $20 to $55 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 and younger. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300 during box office hours.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

If you are an individual with a disability and desire an accommodation, please contact Kacy McAllister at 540-231-5300 or email during regular business hours at least 10 business days prior to the event.



Share this story