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University of Delaware faculty violinist Xiang Gao and his crossover duet 6ixwire Project was featured in a live broadcast of a pop concert in Shanghai that was aired last month on China's national television for more than one billion viewers.
Cited as the most significant outdoor concert ever produced in Chinese history by a television station -- Shanghai Eastern TV -- and a university, the event celebrated the 60th anniversary of the founding of East China Normal University (ECNU), one of China's top universities and a close collaborating institution of UD.
The UD-based and world-traveling crossover duet founded by Gao and featuring erhu virtuoso Cathy Yang performed in front of a live audience of 10,000 in Shanghai with a mission to promote the University of Delaware. Click here to see the live concert video.
Gao composed 6ixwire United, a vocal and instrumental love song about two violinists traveling in time from ancient Persia to modern days to promote UD's historically significant encounter with ECNU and with warm wishes for a bright future of collaboration.
The China performance started with UD President Patrick Harker's personal message, which was narrated by China's television sensation Dong Qing, and a multimedia presentation concerning campus life and international cultural exchanges at the University in the past three years. The presentation showcased UD as one of America's top universities in cutting-edge research and education.
Gao said the mass coverage is an effective tool to attract more quality students, collaborators and supporters worldwide as this production on China's national TV was broadcast for an audience of more than one billion people.
Sharing the stage with Gao and Yang were UD faculty guitarist Christiaan Taggart, alumnus Adam Baumol on drum and senior Steve Scher on bass. Baumol received a bachelor's degree in 2006 and a master's degree in 2008 and Scher is majoring in instrumental music education.
During the trip, 6ixwire Project, Taggart, Scher and guest pianist Jiayue Yang also performed as part of Gao's classical concert presented by ECNU, which featured the ECNU's symphony orchestra accompanying the guest artists from UD.
Gao said, "I have been featured on these types of TV productions many times before but this time was more exciting, as I was really happy to be able to convince the producer to do something big for UD. While this was a big honor for 6ixwire Project, which I consider a UD achievement, it was really a golden opportunity for the University of Delaware to be shown in front of the world through the powerful channels of media.
Trip to China offered
As a true believer in promoting Sino-U.S. relations for the peace of the world, for the sixth time Gao will be voluntarily leading the UD Alumni Association's annual special trip for alumni, faculty, staff and friends of the University of Delaware to China, "the Middle Kingdom," in June, 2012.
The journey will allow Gao, who is bilingual and bicultural, to introduce China to friends of UD in the best way possible. The trip will also be co-directed by his wife Renee Dong, instructor of Chinese and Chinese culture in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures as a volunteer director. The deadline for applications is Jan. 15, 2012.
The 2012 trip brochure, with itinerary and application forms, is posted on the Alumni Relations website. The deadline for application is Jan. 15, 2012.
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In 2009, Gao founded the duet with virtuoso erhu soloist Cathy Yang. They have been performing classical, crossover jazz, folk and rock music worldwide as a one of its kind ensemble promoting cultural understanding and exchange. Their next performance in the local area entitled "6ixwire United" will take place on Feb. 17-18, 2012, at 8 p.m. in Mitchell Hall as part of the 2011-12 UD Master Players Concert Series.
Gao, professor in UD's Department of Music, said the 6ixwire Project brings together two of the essential musical instruments from East and West, the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese violin, and the Western violin.
Thousands of years ago, most bowed string instruments originated in Persia, he said, and it is believed that during the Silk Road period one traveled to Europe and became the four stringed violin while the other went to China and became the most popular solo instrument in Asia, the two stringed erhu.
The instruments were reunited with the formation of the 6ixwire Project in 2009.This world-class ensemble's repertoire covers original and arranged compositions of all styles from Western classical to jazz and rock to bring the Eastern and Western cultures together in creative concert productions for the contemporary international audience.
Among the orchestras with which 6ixwire Project members have presented solo performances in recent seasons are the Detroit Symphony, the Czech Philharmonic, the Gothenburg Symphony-National Orchestra of Sweden, the Estonia National Symphony, the Mexico State Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony, the Memphis Symphony, the Alabama Symphony, Aspen Music Festival orchestras, and the Knoxville Symphony.
In 2010, 6ixwire Project successfully premiered Sleep Now, O Earth, the theme song composed by founding member Gao for the U.S. celebration concert of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Recognized as one of the world's most successful performing artists of his generation from China, Gao has been cited by The New York Times as "a rare and soulful virtuoso."
He has performed for many world leaders, and recently was a featured soloist for Chinese President Hu JinTao and the visiting King Carlos I of Spain. His musical integrity and virtuoso technique have gained accolades from audiences and reviewers around the world.
Gao is professor of music at UD and the ZiJiang Professor of Music at the East China Normal University in Shanghai.
In 2007, the Stradivari Society in Chicago selected Gao to be a recipient of world famous Stradivarius violins for his international solo concerts.
As a singer-songwriter, keyboardist and composer, Gao is also the founding artistic director of two non-profit music organizations in the U.S., the University of Delaware Master Players Concert Series and the China Music Foundation (USA).
In addition to being an erhu virtuoso and UD's Master Players Concert Series artist-in-residence, Yang is also a guzheng (Chinese zither) soloist and a professor of music at the China Contemporary Cultural Academy.
Yang has performed as a soloist at Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center, among other major concert halls in the U.S.
Besides her frequent concert appearances in China, in 2005 she appeared as an erhu and guzheng soloist in Nike Morris's Wheel of Life in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the West End's Peacock Theater in London.
The Chinese government has chosen Yang many times as a cultural ambassador to perform in Vienna, Frankfurt, Munich, Los Angeles and other cities.
In May 2008, while visiting the U.S., she performed as a soloist before thousands of New York Mets fans at Shea Stadium. Yang was also a featured soloist during the 2008 Spoleto Music Festival in Charleston, S.C.
Among the prestigious awards Yang has received in China are top prizes at the Long Yin Instrumental Competition, the Tian Hua erhu competition, the Chinese Ministry of Culture Annual Music Competition, and the Chinese National Cultural Foundation award.