Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Asia Society Presents Wu Tong: Song of the Sheng on March 19

On Wednesday, March 19, 2015, Asia Society is presenting Wu Tong: Song of the Sheng in concert at 725 Park Avenue, New York, NY at 8:00 pm.  Tickets are $22 members; $26 students/seniors; $30 nonmembers. Click here to purchase tickets.

Wu Tong. Photo by Lia Chang

Wu Tong. Photo by Lia Chang

This performance will be preceded at 7:00 pm by a pre-performance lecture with Joanna C. Lee and Ken Smith. This program is part of the Asia Society Performing Arts program and the Asia Society’s Center on US-China‎ Relation’s ongoing “US-China Forum on the Arts and Culture.”

Ken Smith and Joanna C. Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

Ken Smith and Joanna C. Lee. Photo by Lia Chang

Wu Tong (吴彤) is a charter member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and former front man for the Beijing-based rock band Lunhui (轮回). His concert at the Asia Society will showcases a broad sampling of Wu’s musical sensibilities, from traditional tunes and fiery multicultural improvisation to his own ensemble compositions. Also performing will be guitarist Simon C.F. Yu (余俊锋), cellist Neena Deb-sen, and percussionist Shane Shanahan.

The March 19 program features the world premiere of Distant Mountain, commissioned by Sotheby’s and inspired by the paintings of Chinese modern master Wu Guanzhong (吴冠中) (1919–2010), in an arrangement for sheng, cello and vibraphone by the composer Eli Marshall. The piece reunites Wu and Marshall, who collaboratively composed the score for Wong Kar Wai’s film Ashes of Time Redux (2008).  The evening will also include the U.S. premiere of Harmonium Mountain II,  a collaboration between Wu and acclaimed artist Clifford Ross, which had its world premiere at China’s Central Conservatory in Beijing in November 2012.

Video: Wu Tong Performs with Sandeep Das
Wu Tong. Photo by Lia Chang

Wu Tong. Photo by Lia Chang

Born into a musical family in Beijing, Wu Tong has become one of the most visible proponents of traditional Chinese music of his generation. As both vocalist and virtuoso of traditional wind instruments, he has achieved an unparalleled following for Chinese music on four continents.

Wu began his musical studies at age 5 with the father and soon won dozens of national and international competitions in the wind instrument category. He entered the Central Conservatory of Music’s pre-college program at age 11, and upon graduation from Central Conservatory at age 19 became the youngest soloist of the China Central Traditional Music and Dance Company, which toured throughout China and abroad.

In 1991, Wu and four Central Conservatory classmates founded Lunhui, merging the energy of rock music with traditional Chinese form and aesthetics. Their 1993 hit On the Way to Wartime Yangzhou (烽火扬州路) , setting the words of Song Dynasty poet Xin Qiji (辛弃疾) to original music, quickly garnered a record contract with JVC Japan. Lunhui soon became China’s premier rock band both in record sales and live performances, and in 2000 became the first rock band to appear on Chinese Central Television. They were featured regularly on national broadcasts before disbanding three years later.

In 2000, Wu also met Yo-Yo Ma at Tanglewood and was invited to join the Silk Road Ensemble. Featured as both vocalist and instrumentalist on the Ensemble’s first recording, When Strangers Meet (2001) he has appeared on their recordings ever since. His collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma on “Kuai Le,” 《快乐》included inYo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace, won the 2010 Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album.

As a concerto soloist, Wu has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Hong Kong Philharmonic, among others. In November 2013 Wu joined Yo-Yo Ma in the world premiere of Duo《度》, a double concerto written for them by the Chinese composer Zhao Lin (赵麟). The two performed Duo in its U.S. premiere in February 2015, at the New York Philharmonic’s Chinese New Year Gala Concert.

In 2008, Wu made his stage debut with the San Francisco Opera playing multiple roles in The Bonesetter’s Daughter《接骨师之女》by Stewart Wallace and Amy Tan (谭恩美). That same year, he co-wrote the musical score for Ashes of Time Redux, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. His 2011 solo album was nominated for Taiwan’s Golden Melody Award for Best Crossover Album, and he was named 2012 Musician of the Year by New York’s China Institute (纽约华美协进社).

Born and educated in the United States, cellist Neena Deb-Sen made her orchestral debut with New York’s Children’s Orchestra Society at age 13, performing Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations. Soon after, she was admitted to the Juilliard School’s Pre-College Division, where she studied for four years, winning numerous competitions and prizes under the tutelage of Andre Emelianoff and Clara Kim. Her ensemble, the Northway Quintet, earned second prize at the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, Junior Division. At age 18, she entered Yale University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Master of Music under the tutelage of world-renowned professor Aldo Parisot. At Yale, Neena was an active chamber musician, a member of the Grammy-nominated Yale Cellos ensemble, and the Yale Baroque Ensemble. After graduation in 2011, she joined the Macao Orchestra, where she served as Assistant Principal Cello for two years. She currently lives and works in New York City.

Cross-cultural percussionist Shane Shanahan has cultivated his own unique sound, combining his background in jazz, rock and Western art music with studies of drumming traditions around the world. A founding member of the Silk Road Ensemble, he has appeared on all five of the Ensemble’s recordings, two of which feature his arrangements. A member of Glen Velez’s TaKaDiMi Ensemble and Maya Beiser’s Provenance Project, he has also performed with Bobby McFerrin, Aretha Franklin, James Taylor, Philip Glass, Alison Krause, Deep Purple, Jordi Savall and Chaka Khan, among others. Beginning in 2009, he co-curated a 40-week concert series at the Museum of Natural History for its exhibit Traveling the Silk Road. As a member if The Bridge Project, uniting the Brooklyn Academy of Music with London’s Old Vic Theatre and Neal Street Productions, he was one of two featured musicians in Shakespeare’s As You Like It and The Tempest, directed by Sam Mendes.

Guitarist Simon C.F. Yu’s (余俊锋) musical work is characterized by modern harmony and rhythm, combining the roots of traditional Chinese music, modern jazz harmonies, and contemporary electronic beats. He has performed in such prestigious New York venues as the Blue Note, Highline Ballroom and the Bowery Ballroom, as well as Boston’s Wilbur Theatre, the Mohegan Sun Arena, and the House of Blues in both Chicago and Atlantic City.  Beginning in 2010, he toured with hip-hop icon Lauryn Hill for 23 shows, and his band “The Exotic Experiment” was featured in a sold-out show in Shanghai’s MISA festival in 2013. As bandleader, Yu has released two albums, Beginning… (2008) and Exotic Species (2009), as well as the EP The Exotic Experiment (2012). He is also the bandleader of r.O.T.i. (Resilience of the intelligent), a New York-based instrumental trio noted for a hard-hitting brand of funk rock incorporating musical elements from his native Hong Kong.

A veteran of many international exhibitions, the New York-based multimedia artist Clifford Ross began his career as a painter and sculptor after graduating from Yale University in 1974. His interest in photography in the mid 1990s led to breakthroughs in techniques and technologies that have identified him as a pioneer in the field. His high-resolution, single-shot landscapes, filtered through both realistic and abstract sensibilities, led to his Harmonium Mountain I (2011), a short computer-generated animation video with an original score by Philip Glass. His 2011 exhibition “Coal + Ice,” organized by the Asia Society and exhibited at Beijing’s Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, will travel to Shanghai in May 2015. That same month, a major survey of Ross’ work opens at MASS MoCA. He will create an immersive stage set in collaboration with violinist Julian Rachlin as part of his Beethoven’s sonata performances at New York’s 92nd Street Y in February 2016.

Eli Marshall, most recently wrote the music for Ann Hui’s film Golden Era (recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra), which premiered at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival. His music has been performed in Asia, Europe and the United States, including performances at Germany’s parliament building, South Korea’s major Buddhist temple Gak-won Sa, and a six-month installation at the Smithsonian Institution. A former Fulbright Fellow and winner of ASCAP’s Leo Kaplan Award, he is the founding artistic director of the Beijing New Music Ensemble (2006-2010) and curated a concert series of contemporary music at Beijing’s Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in 2013. He is currently Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Faculty in the Music Department at Cornell University.

Tune in to starting at 8:00 pm New York time for a free live video webcast.

About Asia Society
Asia Society is the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Across the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, the Society provides insight, generates ideas, and promotes collaboration to address present challenges and create a shared future.
Founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit institution with headquarters in New York.

All performances take place at Asia Society in New York, 725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street). Find out more about upcoming programs, including information about registration and ticket purchase, at

Tickets may also be purchased by calling our Box Office at 212-517-ASIA, in person at Asia Society, or at the door beginning one hour prior to the performance. Groups of ten or more may receive a discount – please call (212) 327-9249 for details.

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Stephen Adly Guirgis’s BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY Starring Stephen McKinley Henderson, Victor Almanzar, Elizabeth Canavan, Rosal Colón, Liza Colón-Zayas, Michael Rispoli and Ron Cephas Jones, has performances through March 22 at Second Stage Theatre
Photos: “Swimming Awkward Moment,” the newest works by painter Arlan Huang at Trestle Gallery through March 27
Photos: Michael Mayer Helmed BROOKLYNITE Featuring Ann Harada, Matt Doyle, Nicolette Robinson, Andrew Call, Nick Cordero and More, Extends through March 29
Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s AN OCTOROON, Starring Maechi Aharanwa, Pascale Armand, Danielle Davenport, Amber Gray, Ian Lassiter, Austin Smith, Haynes Thigpen, and Mary Wiseman, Extends Again Off-Broadway Through March 29
TheatreWorks Silicon Valley presents Rajiv Joseph’s THE LAKE EFFECT Starring Adam Poss, Nilanjana Bose, Jason Bowen through March 29
Photos: Wendell Pierce, Kevin Mambo, Toccarra Cash, Thaddeus Daniels, Wendell Franklin and Megan Robinson Set for The Billie Holiday Theatre Production of Jackie Alexander’s Brothers from the Bottom through March 29 
Jose Llana Set for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook Debut on March 12
Jeanne Sakata, Jeremy Guskin, Angela Sauer, Andrew Ross Wynn, Elyse Mirto and More Set for A Noise Within’s FIGARO, March 1-May 10 
Mar. 8- 29: Pursuit of the Perfect Plate: tokyo fish story Premieres at South Coast Repertory starring Lawrence Kao, Jully Lee, Eddie Mui, Sab Shimono and Ryun Yu
OBIE Award-winner Jojo Gonzalez, Jessica Almasy, Marcia DeBonis, Brad Heberlee, Sakina Jaffrey, Erik Lochtefeld and Babak Tafti Set for Ars Nova’s World Premiere of SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS, March 10 – April 11; OBIE Winner Rachel Chavkin to Direct
Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I, Starring Ken Watanabe, Kelli O’Hara, Ruthie Ann Miles, Conrad Ricamora, Jon Viktor Corpuz, Paul Nakauchi and More Kick off Rehearsals; Previews Begin March 12
CAAMFest 2015 Honors Filmmaker Arthur Dong with World Premiere Screenings of Forbidden City, USA (3/14), The Killing Fields of Dr. Haing S. Ngor (3/15) & In Conversation with B. Ruby Rich (3/20)
CAAMFest Presents Ursula Liang’s Documentary 9-Man: Northern California Premiere at the Great Star Theatre on March 13; East Bay Premiere at The New Parkway Theater on March 22
Stan Egi, Ellen Crawford, Paige Lindsey White, Bruce Turk, Greg Watanabe and More Set for Jessica Kubzansky helmed PYGMALION at The Pasadena Playhouse, March 17- April 12, 2015
Mar. 24: An Evening with Amy Tan at New-York Historical Society
Broadway Bound Doctor Zhivago Featuring Tam Mutu, Kelli Barrett, Tom Hewitt, Paul Nolan, Lora Lee Gayer, Melody Butiu and More Kicks Off Rehearsal; Previews Begin March 27
Brandon J. Dirden, Merritt Janson, Roslyn Ruff, Andrew Hovelson, Roger Robinson Set for World Premiere of YOUR BLUES AIN’T SWEET LIKE MINE, written and directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson at Two River Theater, April 11-May 3
Tony Award® Nominees Omar Metwally and Arian Moayed to star in Rajiv Joseph’s GUARDS AT THE TAJ, helmed by Amy Morton, at Atlantic Theater Company, May 20-June 28
Video: BETWEEN RIVERSIDE & CRAZY’s Stephen Adly Guirgis, actor Stephen McKinley Henderson and director Austin Pendleton set for THEATER TALK
Photos: National Black Theatre Festival 2013; NBTF runs August 3-8, 2015 and will include Act III – A Celebration of Life Reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr.
Photos: John W. Kuo, Jessica Hagedorn, and Neal Katyal Receive AALDEF 2015 Justice in Action Awards
Suzan-Lori Parks’ FATHER COMES HOME FROM THE WARS, PARTS 1, 2 & 3 is the 2015 Winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History 
THE GET DOWN, Baz Luhrmann’s New Drama Series Set in 1970s NYC That Gave Birth to Hip-Hop, Punk and Disco, to Premiere on Netflix in 2016
The American Playwriting Foundation Creates The Relentless Award to Honor the late Philip Seymour Hoffman Ken Jeong to Star in ABC Medical Comedy Pilot ‘Dr. Ken’
Photos: Hudson Yang, Randall Park, Eddie Huang, Richard Lui, Lori Tan Chinn and More at #FreshOffTheBoat Viewing Party at The Circle NYC
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Advantageous, Oh Lucy!, Meru, Umrika, The Chinese Mayor, The Stanford Prison Experiment Among 2015 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners
Photos: Tony Award Winning Playwright David Henry Hwang, NEFA, Graham Sheffield CBE and Susan Stockton Receive 2015 ISPA Awards
Photos: Late Night at HERE LIES LOVE with Jaygee Macapugay, David Byrne, Jose Llana, Conrad Ricamora, Melody Butiu and More
THE WIZ Turns 40- Photos from Original Broadway Production and BC/EFA Gypsy of The Year Celebration Featuring André De Shields, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ken Page, Charl Brown, Carly Hughes, Christina Sajous, Alton Fitzgerald White, Lillias White and More
Photos: Ellen Burstyn, Baz Luhrmann, John Leguizamo, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Stephen McKinley Henderson, John Patrick Shanley, David Henry Hwang, Liza Colón-Zayas, Kenneth Lonergan and More Celebrate Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Mimi Awards
Crafting a Career
Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at


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