Recognized as the world’s premier pipa virtuoso and leading ambassador of Chinese music, WU Man is a soloist, educator, and composer who gives her lute-like instrument a new role in both traditional and contemporary music. She has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China's ancient musical traditions. These projects have resulted in the pipa finding a place in new solo and quartet works, concertos, opera, chamber, electronic, and jazz music, as well as in theatre productions, film, dance, and collaborations with visual artists. She is a frequent collaborator with the Kronos Quartet, is an original member of the Silkroad Ensemble, and has appeared in more than 40 recordings throughout her career.
Highlights of her 2018–19 season included the US Premiere of ZHAO Lin's A Happy Excursion, Concerto for Pipa and Cello, with Yo-Yo Ma and the New York Philharmonic; two US Premieres by Chinese composers with the Taipei Chinese Orchestra at Carnegie Hall; a European tour as a master musician in the Aga Khan Music Initiative (a group of performers who create music inspired by their cultural heritage of the Middle East, South and Central Asia, West Africa, and China); and performances in China with the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, which blends traditional Chinese music and shadow puppetry. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Silkroad Ensemble this year, she performed with the group in Australia, Asia, and the U.S.
Born in Hangzhou, China, WU Man studied at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she became the first recipient of a Master's degree in pipa. She was named Musical America's 2013 Instrumentalist of the Year, but the best measure of her achievement is that her instrument, which dates back 2,000 years, is no longer an exotic curiosity.
Hawaii-born, Los Angeles-based Daniel Ho is a six-time Grammy Award winner, 14-time Grammy Award nominee, six-time Taiwan Golden Melody Award winner, and recipient of multiple Hawaiian Music awards. He is an ukulele maestro, slack key guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger, singer-songwriter, producer, audio engineer, and record company owner.
Daniel’s collaborations transcend genres from traditional to contemporary Hawaiian, world music with Mongolian nomads and Taiwan aboriginal tribes to folk melodies with WU Man (pipa) and Luis Conte (Cuban percussion), to classical guitar and ukulele duets with Pepe Romero, to driving rock riffs with electric guitarist Tak Matsumoto (of 80+ million album-selling Japanese rock duo, B’z).
He is the designer of the iconic Romero Creations Tiny Tenor ukulele and Ohana Bongolele and Shakerlele. Daniel’s custom-designed six-string ukulele is on exhibit at the Grammy Museum at LA Live.
Always on the move, Daniel is in infinite pursuit of new musical adventures. Daniel endorses Yamaha Guitars, Romero Creations ukuleles, Universal Audio, and BOSE.
Randy Drake began playing drums at age 12. A New Hampshire native, he attended the University of North Texas, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Studies. He received his Master of Music degree in Jazz Studies from California State University, Long Beach.
Randy moved to Los Angeles in 1988 and has performed and recorded with Dan Siegel, Bill Watrous, John Novello (Niacin), Pat Kelley, Gregg Karukas, Birds of a Feather, the Mark Masters Jazz Orchestra, Uncle Festive, Ralph Carmichael, and many other Los Angeles-based artists. He has toured Japan with guitarist Masayoshi Takanaka, and played across the United States with Englebert Humperdinck. He also performed and recorded with jazz-pop artist Daniel Ho and Kilauea, whose recent collaboration included a pop-instrumental album and Blue Note Japan tour with electric guitarist Tak Matsumoto (of B’z). Randy continues to record and perform with Daniel Ho, Jennifer Leitham, and San Gabriel Seven.
LA Times jazz critic, Don Heckman, commented, “Shelly Berg, working in emphatic unity with Chuck Berghofer and Randy Drake, affirms that jazz can (and should) touch the senses, the emotions, and the mind.”
Randy teaches private drum set students at California State University, Long Beach and graduated in 2018 with his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His research interests include music, identity, and gender studies.
Brandon Wong's name is synonymous with the classical, jazz, pop and musical theatre scene in Singapore. A brilliantly versatile double bassist and electric bassist, he has shared the jazz stage with James Morrison, Mike Stern, Shunzo Ohno, Laura Fygi and pop artistes Dick Lee, Corrinne May, Eric Moo and Jimmy Ye. Between 2006 and 2017, encompassing all musical genres, Brandon collaborated with major ensembles including the Singapore Armed Forces Bands, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Chinese Orchestra and the Metropolitan Festival Orchestra. Brandon was actively under the baton of Singapore's musicians and renown composer the late Iskandar Mirza Ismail.
Brandon's involvement with major touring shows is prolific; he was the resident bassist for Disney's The Lion King, an inaugural musical for Marina Bay Sands in 2011, and Michael Nyman's Facing Goya at the official reopening of Singapore's Victoria Theatre in 2014. Brandon's 2017 performances include Setan Jawa - a silent movie with live orchestra, Avenue Q, and Singapore’s ever-timeless musical The Forbidden City: Portrait of an Empress.
Brandon graduated from Singapore Polytechnic with a Diploma in Electronics, Computer and Telecommunications. Following a near-fatal automobile accident in 2005 with multiple broken bones, internal injuries and a dormant left deltoid muscle, Brandon recovered sufficiently to fulfil an earlier aspiration to pursue a professional music degree under tutorage of Singapore Symphony Orchestra principal bassist Guennadi Mouzyka at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore. A full scholarship recipient, Brandon graduated in 2017 with B. Mus Honours (DIstinction) and also recipient of the prestigious Steven Baxter Memorial Award for outstanding performance and achievements in the Conservatory.
A multi-talented and naturally inquisitive musician, Brandon extends his talents to being a sound recordist/engineer and video producer. Brandon also sees himself as a educator and in his quest to nurture young bassists and providing them with the best instruments possible, he created his own bass specialist store in 2008, where he provides service to the string bass community as a luthier.