by Jarrett Hoffman
Deep in the Huayin County in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, in a rural village at the foot of Mount Hua — it was there that pipa player Wu Man first heard the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, a family of farmers with an artistic tradition over 300 years old, passed down through generations.
On Wednesday, March 21 at 7:30 pm at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gartner Auditorium, Wu Man will combine her virtuosity on the pipa with the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band’s unique blend of sounds — shouting vocals, lutes, fiddles, traditional instruments like the yueqin, banhu, and erhu, clappers, small and large gongs, and the battering of a wooden bench. Together they’ll sing and play about life in remote China through old-tune traditional music with shadow puppetry.
Wu Man described the music of the Shaanxi Province as a far cry from the elegant, urban, tea-house style that is popular where she grew up, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, near Shanghai.