Montreal resident Liu Fang has achieved an international reputation for her masterful and deeply spirited pipa playing. Born in 1974 in Kunming in the Chinese province of Yunnan, Liu Fang began studying the pipa at the age of six and gave her first public performance as a pipa soloist when she was nine. In 1985, she played for Queen Elizabeth during Her Majesty's visit to China. Honoured with several provincial and national prizes, Liu Fang graduated from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where she also studied the guzheng, a Chinese zither. Since moving to Canada in 1996, Liu Fang has built a remarkable artistic profile by captivating audiences and critics with the richness and grace of her playing as well as her wide ranging repertoire.
Liu Fang is most well-known for her virtuosic and expressive interpretation of traditional pipa and guzheng music from the classical and folkloric traditions. Celebrated in the press as being "one of the greatest virtuosos", "the empress of pipa" (L'actualitêÎ 2001) is able to transmit in an erudite and significant way the beauty and the richness of this ancient music as well as the subtle sonorities of the instruments by the power and sensibility of her play.
Among the numerous solo recitals, concerto performances and concerts at festivals throughout Canada, the U.S., Europe and South America, Liu Fang has premiered new compositions by a number of accomplished composers. In fact, she has appeared in the spectacular world premier of R. Murray Schafer's opera The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix, playing outstanding solos on both the pipa and the guzheng. She has also collaborated with traditional master musicians from various traditions. She performed two concerti for pipa and orchestra (the "Ghost opera" by celebrated Tan Dun and the "King Chu Doffs his Armour" by Zhou Long) with the Moravia Symphony Orchestra in Prague (1999), and in November 2003 she performed with the orchestre des pays de Savoie in France improvised music in Gustav Mahler's "Liede der Erde" (Song of the Earth) and was highly praised (in Le Monde de la Musique, No. 282). Recently Liu Fang performed with the renowned Nouvelle Ensemble Moderne and SMCQ in Montreal, the Alcan string quartet in Quebec, and the Quartetto Paul Klee Venezia and Xenia Ensemble in Italy, and the Spiegel String Quartet in Belgium. Since last year she has been collaborating with Malcolm Goldstein, an internationally renowned violin maestro, on new and improvised music.
Liu Fang has also made numerous national and international radio recordings and television appearances, given performances recorded for films, and released seven CDs. Liu Fang has been invited as one of the featured artists (including also the world renowned Russian violinist - Vadim Repin) by BBC World Service for the concert on November 7, 2003 dedicated to World AIDS Day. The recording of this concert has been broadcasted in all of the 43 World Service Language Services with the current World Service audience across all platforms in the region of 150 millions. On November 16, 2005, Liu Fang was invited to perform at the concert dedicated to the 60th anniversary of UNESCO in Paris.
Liu Fang has been awarded a number of grants by the Canada Council for the Arts. On June 5th, 2001, she received the prestigious Future Generations Millennium Prize from the council. In the jury's words: "Liu Fang's mastery of the pipa and the guzheng has established her international reputation as a highly talented young interpreter of traditional Chinese music. She aspires to combine her knowledge and practice of eastern traditions with western classical music, contemporary music and improvisation, thereby creating new musical forms, uniting different cultures and discovering new audiences."
On Auguest 4, 2006, Liu Fang received the prestigious l'Acad¡¦ie Charles Cros award in France.
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