Photo of Gao Hong

Gao Hong

Director of the Chinese Music Ensemble and Senior Lecturer in Chinese Musical Instruments, Music

Education & Professional History

Central Conservatory of Music Beijing, BA

Chinese performer and composer Gao Hong is a master of the pear-shaped lute, the pipa. She began her career as a professional musician at age 12, and later graduated  from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the great pipa master Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S. Gao has received numerous top awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and an International Art Cup in Beijing. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2019 she became the only musician in any genre to win five McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. The Minnesota State Arts Board has awarded her with Artist Assistance Fellowships, Artist Initiative Grants, Folk and Traditional Arts Grants, Arts Tour Minnesota Grants, Arts Learning Grants, a Creative Support for Individuals Grant, and a Cultural Community Partnership Grant. As a 2018 Sally Award winner, Gao Hong was honored at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for her commitment to the arts.

Gao has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians, and musicians from other cultures. She has performed at many major festivals and venues worldwide. Her performances have included those at the Lincoln Center Festival; Carnegie Hall; the San Francisco Jazz Festival; the Smithsonian Institution; the Next Wave Festival; Festival d’Automne a Paris in Paris and Caen, France; the International Festival of Perth, Australia;  the Festival de Teatro d’Europa in Milan, Italy,  and others. Her performances of pipa concerti with symphony orchestras include world premieres with the China National Traditional Orchestra (中央民族乐团) at the National Center for the Performing Arts (国家大剧院) in Beijing, the Guangdong National Orchestra, the Hawaii Symphony, and the Women’s Philharmonic (San Francisco); and world premiere recordings with the Boston Modern Orchestra and the Moravian Philharmonic. Other world, U.S., and regional premieres and performances include those with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, Heidelberg (Germany) Philharmonic, Portland (Maine) Symphony, Acadiana Symphony (Louisiana) and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra among others. As a chamber player, she was featured as both and composer and pipa player at ChamberFest Cleveland, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Carolina Chamber Music Festival, Harbin Summer Music Festival, Pittsburgh Early Music Festival and others. She also performed worldwide with the Lincoln Center production of “The Peony Pavilion.” In 2017 she became the first Chinese musician to play the National Anthem at a Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game at Target Center in Minneapolis. Gao Hong is the author of the first pipa method book written in English that was published and distributed worldwide by Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music print publisher.

As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, Kenwood Orchestra, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, Theater Mu, IFTPA, Danish guitarist Lars Hannibal, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, The Cedar, Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council, and Twin Cities Public Television for the six-part series “Made in China.” The Sorel Organization in NYC awarded her a Medallion Recording Grant to support an album of her compositions, and Meet the Composer Inc. in NYC awarded her Creative Connections grants and  MetLife Creative Connections grants. Her composition for solo pipa, “Flying Dragon”, won the 2012 Global Music Award – Award of Excellence Solo Instrumental (Gold Medal).

China’s foremost music publication, People’s Music, wrote of Gao Hong that “like the famous Luoyang peony, she has gradually emerged as the best of all beautiful flowers…her performance has extremely strong artistic appeal and belongs under the category of ‘fine wine’…the more you listen, the more beautiful it gets…”


At Carleton since 2001.

Highlights & Recent Activity

2021

– ”Hunting Eagles Catching Swans” – Pudong pipa music by Master Linshicheng and Gao Hong album – Winner of the 2021 Global Music Award Glod Medals – Album and Instrumentals

– Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Individual Artist Grant Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council

2020

– “From Our World to Yours” – Winner of the 2020 Global Music Award Glod Medals Album and Instrumentals

– Folk and Traditional Arts Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Arts Tour Minnesota grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– USArtists International grant form the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

– The Knight Foundation Cultural Opportunity Fund

– Appointed a voting member of the Grammys from the Recording Academy

2019

– Folk and Traditional Arts Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Winner of 2019 McKnight Fellowships for Musicians

2018

– Sally Award from the Ordway Center for Performing Arts

– Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Awarded Guest Professor titles at China Conservatory and Hebei Vocational  College for the Arts

2017

– Arts Tour Minnesota grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Established Artist grant from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council (SEMAC)

2016

– USArtists International grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

– Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– “Pipa Potluck – Lutes Around the World” – Winner of the 2016 Global Music Award Outstanding Album Award

– Global Music Award Silver Medal-Outstanding Achievement for Instrumental Music For Gao Hong’s composition “Green Willow Tree”

– Honored Guest Professor Title at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music, China.

2015

– Arts Tour Minnesota Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Arts Learning Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

2014

– 416 Club Commissions from the Cedar Cultural Center

– Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

2013

– Sorel Medallion in Recording grant from the Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization, Inc. in New York City

2012   

– Winner of the 2012 Global Music Award ‘s – Award of Excellence

– Winner of the 2012-2013 McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians administered by MacPhail Center for Music.

– Arts Tour Minnesota Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Folk and Traditional Arts Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Kathryn Davis Fellowships for Peace from Middlebury College

2011  

– Arts Learning Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– USArtists International grant of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

2010   

– Art Learning Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Subito award from the American Composers Forum

2009

– Global Connections grant from the Meet The Composer Inc. in New York.

– USArtists International grant form the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation

2008

– McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians administered by MacPhail Center for Music.

– MetLife Creative Connections Grant from the Meet The Composer Inc. in New York.

– Emerging Composer Commission from the Jerome Foundation.

– Subito award from the American Composers Forum

– Honored Guest Professor Tilte at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

2007

– The St Paul Listens from the American Composers Forum

– Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant

– Chinese Heritage Foundation Grant.

– Cultural Community Partnership Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– Winner of 2007 Essentially Choral reading program by American Composers Forum and VocalEssence

– MetLife Creative Connections Grant from the Meet The Composer Inc. in New York.

2006

– Creative Connections award from the Meet The Composer Inc. in New York.

– Encore award from the American Composers Forum

2005

– Creative Connections (formerly The Meet The Composer Fund) from Meet The Composer Inc. in New York.

– Emerging Composer Commission from the Jerome Foundation.

– Subito award from the American Composers Forum

2004   

– Bush Fellowship for Folk and Traditional Arts

– Artist Initiative Grant form the Minnesota State Arts Board

2003

– Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant

2002

– Jerome Foundation Emerging Composer Commission

– Emerging Composer Commission from the Jerome Foundation

2001

– McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians

– Commission from Ragamala Music and Dance Theater for Transposed Heads.

 2000

– Awarded LIN (Leadership Initiative in Neighborhoods) grant from The St. Paul Companies

– Commission from Twin Cities Public Television to compose and perform on the soundtrack of six-episode series Made In China.

– Commission from Theater Mu to compose music for play Song of the Pipa, based on Gao Hong’s own life story and the life of Bai Juyi.

1998   

– Included in People’s Publishing’s “Dictionary of Chinese Musicians”

– Received funding from the American Composers Forum’s Performance Incentive Fund

1997   

– Artist Assistance Fellowship from the Minnesota State Arts Board

– McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians

– Asian-Pacific Award from Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans

– Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant

1996 

– Received funding through Walker Art Center Community Partnership Fund for performances with Western orchestras and educational workshops administered by International Friendship Through the Performing Arts

– Received funding from the American Composers Forum’s Performance Incentive Fund

– Included in The Dictionary of Contemporary Music Notables

– Featured in the book Famous People From Henan Province

1990

– Awarded International Art Cup in Beijing

1984  

– 1st Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition

Organizations & Scholarly Affiliations

Gao Hong is Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music, China Conservatory of Music, Tianjin Conservatory of Music, and Hebei Vocational Arts College. She is a member of the Board of Directors at the American Composers Forum and Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.

Current Courses

  • Fall 2020
    MUSC 182: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 182J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 188: Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble
  •  
    MUSC 194: Chamber Music
  •  
    MUSC 282: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 282J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  • Winter 2021
    MUSC 182: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 182J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 188: Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble
  •  
    MUSC 194: Chamber Music
  •  
    MUSC 282: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 282J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  • Spring 2021
    MUSC 182: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 182J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 188: Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble
  •  
    MUSC 194: Chamber Music
  •  
    MUSC 282: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 282J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 299: Recital
  • Fall 2021
    MUSC 182: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 182J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 188: Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble
  •  
    MUSC 194: Chamber Music
  •  
    MUSC 282: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 282J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  • Winter 2022
    MUSC 182: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 182J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 188: Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble
  •  
    MUSC 282: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 282J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  • Spring 2022
    MUSC 182: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 182J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)
  •  
    MUSC 188: Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble
  •  
    MUSC 282: Chinese Musical Instruments
  •  
    MUSC 282J: Chinese Musical Instruments (Juried)