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Carleton and St. Olaf faculty group to present performance next weekend in downtown Minneapolis

<rleton music faculty members Gao Hong (Chinese pipa) and Nicola Melville (piano), along with St. Olaf College music faculty, Dave Hagedorn (percussion) and Jun Qian (clarinet), will perform together on Saturday, March 7 at 1 p.m. at the MacPhail Center for Music’s Antonello Hall in downtown Minneapolis. The program will include traditional Chinese works, traditional Western works, compositions by Gao Hong and world premiere performances of new compositions by Northfield composers Justin Merritt (St. Olaf College), Alex Freeman (Carleton College) and New York composer Doug Opel. The concert is free and open to the public.

Representing three countries – Gao Hong, Melville, Hagedorn and Qian come together in an exciting new Asian-fusion classical ensemble they call “Intersections.” This unique musical collaboration brings a wealth of diverse experiences to the thrilling ensemble. Their broad backgrounds in Western Art music, traditional Chinese music, East-meets-West compositions, contemporary music, jazz and ragtime fuse to produce programming that is fresh and innovative.

Gao Hong, a Chinese musical prodigy and master of the pear-shaped lute, the pipa, began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated with honors from China’s premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the great pipa master Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S., Gao Hong has received numerous top awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and an International Art Cup in Beijing. In 2005 Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2008 she became the only musician in any genre to win three McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. Among other awards, the Minnesota State Arts Board has awarded her with an Artist Assistance Fellowship, an Artist Initiative Grant and a Cultural Community Partnership Grant.

Hong has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians and musicians from other cultures. Her performances have included those at the Lincoln Center Festival, Carnegie Hall, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Smithsonian Institution and many others worldwide. As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation,and many others.

In addition to Hong’s own solo performances of her compositions worldwide, her music has been performed internationally by many world class musicians. In 2000, Song of the Pipa, a play based on Gao Hong’s life and the life of Chinese poet Bai Juyi, received 20 performances by Theater Mu and featured live musical accompaniment and new compositions by Gao Hong.David Hagedorn is an Artist in Residence at St. Olaf College, where he teaches percussion, jazz studies and world music. He has performed extensively as a jazz percussionist and in classical performances ranging from Bach to contemporary and cross-cultural compositions. Hagedorn has a broad multicultural background: he has studied African drumming with Abraham Adzenyah at the Banff Centre for Fine Arts in Canada and has recorded with the George Russell Living Time Orchestra on Blue Note Recordings, jazz singer Debbie Duncan on Igmod Recordings, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra on Teldec Recordings, and also with the Phil Hey Quartet, Pete Whitman’s X-tet and Maintime. His own solo album, SolidLiquid, is available on the Artegra label. Hagedorn regularly performs in the Twin Cities with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra and with jazz groups such as the Phil Hey quartet, the X-tet, Low Blows, Eric Kamau Gravatt and Source Code.

Jun Qian has appeared as a concerto soloist with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Eastman Chamber Orchestra, the Shanghai Philharmonic, the Xiamen Philharmonic, the Baylor Symphony Orchestra and the Shangyang Opera Orchestra. In 2001, he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the Asian American International Orchestra. In October 2004, he was the featured soloist at the International Performing Arts Festival in Japan, and he has appeared on National Public Radio’s “Performance Today” with the Grammy-award winning Ying Quartet.

Qian is Assistant Professor of Music at St. Olaf College; he has also served on the clarinet faculty at Nazareth College, Houghton College and New York State University at Fredonia. He has taught chamber music at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music in China, and performed as the principal clarinetist of the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1997, he won prizes in the Solo Competition at the International Clarinet Association Young Artist Competition, the Texas Young Artist Competition, and the Baylor Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition. Qian holds a B.M. from Baylor University.

Nicola Melville is a native of New Zealand and has lived in the United States since 1990. The Waikato Times described Melville as having “an original and intelligent musical mind.” Melville has been a prize-winner in several competitions in the U.S. and has appeared throughout the country as a recitalist, concerto soloist and chamber musician, with live appearances broadcast on Canadian, U.S., South African and Chinese National Radios. She has also appeared in concert in Canada, England and France, and has toured New Zealand regularly. Nicola has won both the National Concerto Competition and the Auckland Star Concerto Competition in New Zealand. She attended Victoria University School of Music, Wellington, then earned Masters and Doctorate degrees from the Eastman School of Music in New York, where she was awarded the Lizzie T. Mason prize for Outstanding Graduate Pianist,and the prestigious Performers Certificate.

Melville has a special interest in contemporary music, having commissioned and premiered many works in the U.S. and in New Zealand. She is a member of the Renegade Ensemble in the Twin Cities and the Veblen Trio. She has won grants from such organizations as Meet the Composer, Creative New Zealand, the Argosy Fund for Contemporary Music and the Jerome Composers Commissioning Program for the commissioning, performing and recording of new music. She has recorded for the Innova and Equilibrium labels, most recently releasing a CD of 13 new works dedicated to her by composers from across America, including Pulitzer and Grammy nominated artists. Melville is Assistant Professor at Carleton College and is on the resident faculty of the Chautauqua Summer Festival, New York.

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