Carleton presents Spirit of Nature, featuring the world’s top performers of traditional Chinese music

21 October 2016

Carleton announces two appearances by Spirit of Nature, an ensemble comprised of the world’s top performers of traditional Chinese music. On Friday, Oct. 28 from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m., the group will present the College’s weekly convocation in the Skinner Memorial Chapel, offering a lecture about and demonstration of traditional Chinese musical instruments. Then, on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Concert Hall, in collaboration with Carleton’s acclaimed Chinese Music Ensemble, Spirit of Nature will present a stunning concert performance of the best of Chinese folk, classical, court, silk and bamboo, and new and traditional music.

Both events are free and open to the public. Carleton convocations are also recorded and archived online at

Spirit of Nature has performed worldwide to many accolades and features the world’s best traditional Chinese musicians, including Chen Tao, Liu Li, Hong Wang, Yang Yi, Ping Li, and Gao Hong.

Chen Tao is an internationally acclaimed Chinese flutist, music educator, composer and conductor of Chinese orchestras. He is the founder and director of the Melody of Dragon, Inc., the co-founder and director of Melody of Dragon & the Youth, the artistic director and conductor of the Chinese Music Ensemble of New York and conductor of New Jersey Buddha’s Light Youth Chinese Orchestra. The New York Times called Chen Tao, a “poet in music” and his playing “a miracle of the oriental flute.” Conductor Herbert Von Karajan praises him as an artist who “performs with his soul.” Chen Tao is a graduate and former Associate Professor at the prestigious Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. He was the winner of the 1989 National Folk Instrument Competition in China and has toured throughout the U.S., Germany, Italy, France, England, Holland, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao. He has collaborated with the BBC Philharmonic and the National Orchestra of Lyon. His playing can be heard on several soundtracks of Hollywood movies including Seven Years in Tibet, Corrupter (with the New York Philharmonic) and on the PBS documentary, “Under the Red Flag.”

Liu Li, a Guqin virtuoso, is president of the New York Guqin Association. Since she moved to America in 1994, Liu Li has been invited frequently to perform and lecture throughout the country. Her collaboration with the New Music Consort of the Manhattan School of Music’s Chamber Orchestra received high praise from the critics. She has also performed at Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Japanese Society, La Mama Theater, the Metropolitan Museum of Arts and other New York venues. In February 1996, invited by Taiwan’s National Music Ensemble in Taipei, Liu Li held a concerto performance in the National Hall of Music as well as a lecture on Guqin music, both of which were critically acclaimed. In 2002, she collaborated on the movie music recording of “Hero” composed by Oscar- and Grammy-winner Tan Dun with world famous Violin master Itzhak Perlman.

Hong Wang is most actively an internationally acclaimed multi-instrumentalist. He graduated from Nanjing Normal University’s Music Department where he mainly studied the erhu (two string bowed instrument), oboe and composition. As a dynamic performer, he has performed with Meredith Monk for her opera “Atlas,” with Tan Dun for his “2000 Today” world premiere with the Shanghai Broadcasting Orchestra in China, and at the “WaldbÜhane in Berlin 2000” with the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Kent Nagano. He has also performed with the San Francisco Symphony. In 2010, he played several instruments with Opera Boston for Pulitzer Prize-winner Zhou Long’s world premiere of “Madame White Snake.” In May 2010, he performed as a soloist with the Neubrandenburg Philharmonic in Germany. He has also performed with jazz musicians Max Roach, David Murray and Anthony Brown’s Asian American Jazz Orchestra. Wang visited Inner Mongolia twice and collected the most valued traditional songs and music from the grassland. He is self-learning a legendary instrument from Inner Mongolia, the matouqin (morin khuur; a horse head cello). Wang also performed as a multi-instrumentalist on soundtracks for episodes of “Kung Fu Panda” and “The Legend of Korra” for Nickelodeon.

Yang Yi is recognized as a foremost Guzheng master in the world, described by the New York Times as “fascinating, surprising and extraordinarily beautiful,” “extraordinarily fantastic, intensive and passionate.” by the West German News, and “She really sets the instrument on fire,” by the Daily Record, NJ . A winner of International Chinese Instruments Competition and numerous awards, Yang Yi is a highly acclaimed guzheng virtuoso, distinguished guzheng educator and lecturer. She has been profiled in music documentary programs on radio and TV here and abroad. Yang Yi was a faculty at the China Conservatory of music, where she graduated. She has performed as a soloist with the most renowned Chinese Music Groups such as Chinese National Orchestra, China Broadcasting Chinese Orchestra, China National Song & Dance Ensemble, China National Opera House, and Beijing Song & Dance Ensemble.

Ping Li played as principal dulcimer player and first soloist of the China Central Orchestra for Traditional Music and The Asian Orchestra (Japanese, Korean, Chinese). She dazzled audiences with her performances for over thirty years in more than twenty countries worldwide including the United States and major European and Asian cities. She was the winner of many international dulcimer competitions including the Second Prize of the China National Traditional Music Competition in 1989, the Gold Prize in the 13th World Professional Youth Symposium in Pyongyang, North Korea in 1988, and the Japanese Chamber Music Competition Gold Medal at Osaka, Japan. Ms. Li has composed, published, performed and recorded master works not only on the dulcimer, but also on the guzheng and percussion. Ms. Li is the Founder and President of the Boston Art School for Chinese Music and the Society for Chinese Instrumental Music (SCIM). She also leads the Chinese Dulcimer Guzheng Youth Band and received a certificate of merit and money award from Massachusetts Cultural Council in 2012.

Carleton’s own Gao Hong (Chinese pipa player and composer) began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated with honors from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing where she studied with pipa master Lin Shicheng. She has received numerous awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition, a Beijing Art Cup, an Asian Pacific Award, and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Meet the Composer and Sorel Organization in New York. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2012 she became the only musician in any genre to win four McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Theater Mu, IFTPA, and Twin Cities Public Television. She has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the United States and has participated in events at the Lincoln Center Festival, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, and at international festivals in Paris, Caen, Milan, and Perth. She has performed countless U.S. and world premieres of pipa concerti with organizations such as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Heidelberg Philharmonic, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, and the Women’s Philharmonic (San Francisco), among others. In 2016, Gao Hong completed the first pipa method book ever written in English and had it published by Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music publishing company. She is also Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and Tianjin Conservatory of Music in China. Gao Hong’s personal website can be found at:

This event is sponsored by the Carleton College Music Department. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4232. The Concert Hall is located on the Carleton campus and is accessible via Highway 19 in Northfield.