(Click here for biography in Chinese).
“Creation of music should be like a tree manifesting itself in thousands of branches and leaves, and the source that creation is inevitably its own root. That root, for me, is the personal as well as the collective memory of the past.” - Gao Ping.
Gao Ping is a pianist-composer, born in Sichuan province, known for evocative textures and piano vocalization, and is the receipient of high musical honors. Growing up as a young pianist at the Sichuan Conservatory in Chengdu, Gao Ping was affected by China’s concurrent transformation from a collective to a market economy. This transitional phase between old and new -- and the productive cultural clash between East and West -- left traces that would later be evident in his music. From his mother, Luo Lianglian, the singer and teacher, Gao Ping gained a fascination with vocalization, while his father Gao Weijie initiated him into the Society for Exploration of New Music at its inception. The Beijing-based musicologist Li Xi’an has referred to Gao Ping as a leading member of the “sixth generation” of Chinese composers after the “fifth generation” composers such as Tan Dun and Qu Xiaosong.
As a pianist, Gao Ping’s repertoire is extensive; he has performed to acclaim all over the world. In 2008, Gao Ping premiered his Piano Concerto with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Mr. Kenneth Young. The Listener enthusiastically acclaimed the two-movement work as “a major concerto that cries out for early CD release.” Reviewing a Naxos disc Gao Ping’s performance of his own chamber music, the critic Ian Dando called Gao “the man with 1001 tone colors.” His pianistic proclivities and understanding of contemporary music have led Gao Ping to become sought after by living composers, including George Crumb and Frederic Rzewski. His recitals present thought provoking programs, and often feature improvisations which composer Jack Body described as “astounding.”
Gao Ping approaches the creation of music with the same intensity as his activity as a performer would suggest.
In Europe, his music has been commissioned or performed by groups including the Berlin Piano-Percussion Ensemble the Zurich-based Ensemble Pyramide, and the Gaudeamus International Music Week in Amsterdam. Last year, pianist Frederick Chui played Gao Ping’s “Two Soviet Love Songs” at the Soloistes Aux Serres d’Autueil in Paris. In Asia, his music was performed at the Beijing-Modern International Music Festival, Hibiki Hall Music Festival in Japan, Macau International Music Festival, was commissioned by the Taiwan National Chinese Orchestra. In North America, his music was premiered at the Aspen Music Festival, and commissioned by pianist Ursula Oppens and violinist Arnold Steinhardt, respectively. The San Francisco Chronicle called his work “The Mountain” a “superb and often sweepingly beautiful work.” Gao Ping’s chamber music on Naxos label was critically acclaimed and was described by a German critic as “music which wants to be heard with ears of a child, full of wonder and amazement…. deep and vulnerable.” He provided a portion of the award-winning score to Vincent Ward’s film “Rain of the Children”.
While completing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, he won the 2003 Auros Compostion Prize (Boston) and was resident at the MacDowell Colony for Artists.
Since 2004, Dr. Gao has taken up a composition lecturership in the School of Music at the Canterbury University in Christchurch, New Zealand. In New Zealand, his music has been presented by Michael Houstoun, John Chen, Christchurch International Arts Festival，New Zealand String Quartet, and NZTrio. Gao is the recipient of the 2010 CANZ (Composers Association of NZ) Trust Fund Award.
In his most recent works, Gao returns more fully to China as a creative theme. “Night Alley,” a piece based on an essay by Chen Danqing, mingles his China inspired melodies with quotations from Chopin’s Mazurka, creating a unique sound world which once resonated in the corridors of Chinese communes. At the 4th China International Piano Competition in 2007, the piece was performed as the obligatory work, reflecting the appeal of Gao’s fusing of Western and Eastern idioms, as well as the expanding interest in his compositions dealing with China and its multiple pasts.
--- selected press for GAO Ping’s music
“It is a mark of Gao's skill that, in a work （Piano Concerto） of such magnitude, he is able to combine so many diverse elements while at the same time never losing sight of the work's intention and overall design. This is a major new concerto that cries out for early CD release”.
“The Mountain, a superb and often sweepingly beautiful work for two pianos composed in 2004 by Gao Ping.”
“……a work (Piano Quintet ‘Mei, Lan, Zhu, Ju’) of tremendous depth.”
“Bright Light and Cloud Shadows gives a more delicate sonic impression…… Gao creates string sonorities from an imagined palette of pastels painting in gently evolving textures and with tender long-breathed brush strokes.”
“Dance Fury by Gao Ping..…virtuosic and original，the crowd ate it up.”
“The highlights were Gao Ping’s subtly beautiful Bright Cloud and Cloud Shadows from the NZSQ….”
“(GAO) Ping’s The Mountain for two pianos was by far the more interesting. It contains a powerful central section, a simultaneous passacaglia and fugue.”
“Music which wants to be heard with ears of a child, full of wonder and amazement…. deep and vulnerable. It is becoming increasingly clear that he is possibly the archetype of the contemporary composer.”
“The man with 1001 tone colors. Here is tasteful and sincere music built to last.”
“I strongly recommend this disc (GAO Ping’s Chamber music NAXOS) to those who like to get more familiar with contemporary music but are still a little hesitant.”
“A passionate musical soul.”
“No-one ends a piece with such diaphanous delicacy as GAO.”
“Gao Ping plays his piece for piano and voice, Concealed Kisses, with dazzling virtuosity and sparkling wit.”