Percussion Group Cincinnati:
PERCUSSION GROUP CINCINNATI was founded in 1979 and consists of members Allen Otte, James Culley, and Russell Burge, all of whom are faculty members and ensemble-in-residence at the College-Conservatory of Music of the University of Cincinnati. Their daily rehearsal schedule is supplemented with the teaching and coaching of young musicians, many of whom have gone on to professional careers in creative music, in teaching, and with major symphony orchestras. Appearances in their national and international touring schedule have included the major cities, festivals, concert halls and schools of America, Europe and Asia. In addition to community concerts, workshops, and master classes, the Group regularly appears as concerto soloists with symphony orchestras, and has presented their program "Music From Scratch" to hundreds of thousands of children across North America. Percussion Group Cincinnati is particularly respected for its knowledge of and experience with the entire range of the music of John Cage, having made tours and festival appearances with him on a number of occasions in Europe and in America, and having had pieces created by Cage especially for the Group. More recently, the Group has developed similar special relationships with John Luther Adams, Qu Xiao-Song, Russell Peck, and with Larry Austin on the Charles Ives Universe Symphony project. Recent performances include the 2001 Shanghai Inter- national Spring Music Festival, a tour of Japan, and the premier in Hong Kong of Qu Xiao-song's concerto for the group, "The Stone".
Over the past 25 years, many young composers from the United States, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia have created a large body of new and often experimental music for the unique talents of Percussion Group Cincinnati. The group's work appears on various CDs, including their own ars moderno label; their recording of John Luther Adams' evening-length "Strange and Sacred Noise" will be released in surround-sound by Mode this year; they are currently at work on CD's of the percussion music of Qu Xiao-song, on their contribution to the series of Mode Records' integrated set of the complete music of John Cage, and on a 25-year retrospective multi-disc set including performances from the group's entire history.
Blue Pipa Trio
Chinese pipa player, singer and composer Min Xiao-Fen is known for her flowing style. She is a world recognized virtuoso and a courageous pioneer in both orchestral and underground projects. She was a pipa soloist with the famed Nanjing Traditional Music Orchestra of China for more than ten years. She also won the Jiangsu national pipa competition and eventually become a first class artist in China. After Ms. Min came to the United States in 1992, she worked with composers John Zorn, Philip Glass, Wadada Leo Smith, Randy Weston, Tan Dun, Chen Yi and many others. She has performed solo concerts at the Utrecht International Lute Festival, the Brussels Lute Festival and the New York Guitar Festival.
Steve Salerno (guitar/composer) is an active performer of both Jazz and Classical music. He has performed in Europe, China, Puerto Rico, the United States and Canada. He is a member of the Ray Anderson Quartet and the Paul Smoker 4-Tet and leads a variety of groups, including his jazz trio, Exiles. Among his latest recordings are Paul Smoker’s “Mirabile Dictu,” Ray Anderson’s “Bone Meal” and Dave Lobenstein’s “Triple Play.”
Born in Seattle, Washington, Dean Johnson studied Bass Violin with a number of bassists, including the renowned Gary Peacock. Dean also studied piano and composition at the Cornish Institute, in Seattle, with James Knapp. From 1974 to 1976 Dean attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston studying with bassists Rich Appleman, John Neves, and studying theory, composition, and arranging with John LaPorta and Herb Pomeroy.
Bluegrass in Beijing? The plinka-plunk of banjo seems almost as incongruous in the Middle Kingdom as clogging. Yet both dance and music were showcased in November in Beijing. Actually, a more apt description would be Old Time. Alternately heralded as Appalachian or derided as Hillbilly music, the genre is often called America’s only indigenous music. Abigail Washburn puts a new twist on Old Time.
Her unusual repertoire included compositions in Chinese and English, plus traditional Chinese poems performed as few people have heard them, put to the lively picking of banjo, guitar, stand-up bass and fiddle. Ms. Washburn has clearly
been moved by her experiences in China. “What I am trying to do is capture what it is like to be caught between two cultures,” she said. “It’s like being a bridge.”
She started studying Chinese in 1996 after a China visit following her freshman year in college in Colorado. “It was such a difficult place, so hard to travel.” She stubbornly delved into the language and culture, discovering a kind of vocation. “I decided I’d study Chinese the rest of my life.”
She was discovered at a bluegrass convention, singing songs in a hallway with a few girls. An agent overheard and whisked them to Nashville to make a demo. The deal was turned down, but it opened her eyes to latent musical talent that soon be put into a real test.