WU FEI

LARA ST. JOHN

Wu Fei is a classically trained composer, a renowned master of the guzheng — the 21-string Chinese zither – and a vocalist. She has taken her music around the world, appearing at such venues as the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing, Shanghai’s Expo 2010, New York’s MoMA, North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Vossa Jazz in Norway, the Europalia Festival in Belgium, and the Big Ears Festival in Tennessee.

Wu plays in the guzheng’s vernacular — a musical language at least 2,000 years old – mixing Western classical and Chinese traditions with a contemporary, idiosyncratic sound. She composes for choir, string quartet, chamber ensemble, Balinese gamelan, and orchestra, and her many commissions have ranged from a composition for Percussions Claviers de Lyon, which premiered in the Forbidden City Concert Hall, to live performances in Paris and Tokyo for luxury brand Hermès. She has received commissions from Nashville’s Intersection ensemble and individual soloists globally. Currently she is composer-in-residence for the Chatterbird Ensemble.

In addition to her original compositions, Wu has collaborated with many artists from different disciplines and genres, ranging from Béla Fleck, Abigail Washburn and Billy Martin (Medeski-Martin-Wood) to avant-garde composers John Zorn and Fred Frith.

Wu has appeared in concerts and workshops at numerous universities around the world, including Princeton University, UNC Chapel Hill, UC Irvine, Vanderbilt University, the China Conservatory of Music and the Norwegian Music Academy.

She has released two solo recordings and one collaborative album with classical guitarist Gyan Riley. Each of her recordings exhibits both her unique solo improvisational vocabulary and the craft of her compositions for chamber orchestras.

She received her early music education at the China Conservatory of Music and earned her master’s at Mills College before immersing herself in the New York downtown improvisation scene at venues like The Stone, where she has frequently performed and curated. Wu is a native of Beijing and a current resident of Nashville.

Cell phones got alerts that a performance by Chinese guzheng player Wu Fei was at capacity.
— Rolling Stone magazine, on Wu Fei’s sold out solo performance at Big Ears music festival, March 2017.

Wu’s work evinces respect for tradition, an interest in what instruments can do, a strong sense of architecture, and good old fashioned showmanship.
— Allmusic.com’s review of Wu Fei's chamber work album Yuan, released on Tzadik Records.