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Concert: Yang Wei and Friends – East meets West

Yang Wei

Yang Wei and Friends
Joliet Junior College Fine Arts Theater
1215 Houbolt Road
Joliet IL 60540
March 26, 3 PM
Admission: Free

Pipa sensation Yang Wei’s career in America, which has spanned over two decades, has been driven by an east-meets-west theme and a strong desire to bridge cultures through his music. In his inaugural concert in his role as the Chinese Fine Arts Society’s 2017 Artist in Residence, he will be joined by pianist George LePauw and cellist Christopher Bennett to present four works which take the audience from traditional pipa classics to adaptations of major works from the western and Chinese canon, the Beethoven piano trio Opus 11, and the Butterfly Lover’s Concerto respectively, both adapted for pipa by rising Chinese composer JunYi Chow.


The Ancient Battlefield (traditional), pipa and piano

Piano Trio Opus 11 (Ludwig von Beethoven), arranged for Pipa, piano and cello by JunYi Chow

A Moonlit Night on a Spring River (traditional), pipa and piano

Butterfly Lovers’ Concerto (He Zhanhao and Chen Gang), arranged for Pipa, piano and cello by JunYi Chow

About the Artists

Yang Wei

In 1996, already the recipient of many awards, Yang Wei moved permanently to the United States, making his home in the Chicago area. Yang Wei’s artistic perspective is one that honors the musical heritage of his homeland in China, but also combines the Western influences of his new home.

Yang Wei’s musical education began at the early age of 6. As a young student of music, he received instruction in several different classical Chinese instruments. At 13, the decision was made to concentrate his considerable talents upon mastering the Pipa. The years of study and dedication began to payoff when at 18 he performed as a soloist with the National Shanghai Orchestra. In 1989, he was awarded the ART Trophy First Prize for the International Chinese Musical Instruments Competition, in the Young Professional Pipa Section.

As a professional musician he has been celebrated worldwide, performing for and inspiring audiences throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States. His professional activities have included performing as a soloist with various orchestras and in various ensembles, teaching and participating in educational programs in both public and educational settings. Since 2000, Yang Wei has toured with the acclaimed Silk Road Project, performing alongside world famous cellist, Yo Yo Ma. In the United States, he has performed at such known venues as the Ravinia International Music Festival, the Kimmel Center, the Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Symphony Center and Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. In addition to these performances, he has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Art Institute of Chicago and has led international music lectures. He has been instrumental in commissioning new works by well-known composers such as Bright Sheng, Zhu Jian- er, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Yao Chen. He is currently the Artist in Residence for the Chinese Fine Arts Society.

Additional accomplishments include his reception of a Fellowship in Ethnic and Folk Arts by the Illinois Arts Council in 2006, and his participation in a residency at the Humanity Institute of the University of Michigan in both 2006 and 2007. Also in 2007,Yang Wei sponsored a major collaborative performance with his great mentor, Master Liu Dehai, at the Art Institute of Chicago. He has appeared on the David Letterman Show and on Good Morning America with the Silk Road Project.

Yang Wei continues to develop his art through comprehensive study, as well as through his involvement in timely and new collaborations. He is committed to sharing
his music with the community around him and continues to be interested in exploring the possibilities created by blending his eastern instrument with western influences and themes.

George LePauw

George LePauw

“A prodigious pianist” (Chicago Tribune) recognized for his “singing tone” (New York Times), and someone who “likes to shake it up” (Chicago Tribune), George Lepauw is an artist and cultural activist who uses music and the arts to inspire and bring people together, following upon Beethoven’s idea of “brotherhood”. Named Chicagoan of the Year (2012) for Classical Music (Chicago Tribune), George represents the ideal 21st century musician, intensely focused on his art and wholly engaged with the world. In addition to his performance career, George is the Founder of the International Beethoven Project (IBP), a radical organization focused on innovation in the arts, and Executive Director of the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival (CIMMfest).

George began piano studies at the age of three in Paris with Aïda Barenboim, mother of Daniel Barenboim, and furthered his studies with Elena Varvarova, Brigitte Engerer, Vladimir Krainev, Rena Shereshevskaya, Ursula Oppens, and Earl Wild, among others. He has degrees from Georgetown University (Literature and History), and from Northwestern University (Piano Performance). George is a frequent speaker and guest teacher at universities and “ideas festivals” as well as on radio and television. He is currently preparing a recording of the Bach Well-Tempered Clavier, and hosts a podcast on the arts called Through The Stage Door. Visit for more information.

Christopher Bennett

Chris Bennett

Christopher studied with Georg Pedersen and Julian Smiles at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, receiving his Bachelor’s with Honours in 2013. He is currently studying for his Master’s Degree at Northwestern University in Chicago studying with Hans Jorgen Jensen.

In 2013 Christopher was awarded an Arts Fellowship through Ars Musica Australis. This allowed Christopher to travel to The Netherlands to complete a month of intensive coaching with internationally renowned soloist Pieter Wispelwey. Christopher continues to be supported by Ars Musica Australis.

Christopher has also been the recipient of several other scholarships including the Dame Joan Sutherland Fund and the PPCA Performers trust, and these made it possible for Christopher to twice attend Meadowmount School of Music in New York. In 2013 he studied with Clive Greensmith of the Tokoyo String Quartet, as well as Alan Rafferty and Jeffery Sollow, and in 2014 he studied with Hans Jorgen Jensen.

As a teacher, Christopher will be returning to Meadowmount this year as teaching assistant to Hans Jensen and is also currently teaching non-major cellists at Northwestern University.

JunYi Chow

New York-based Composer JunYi Chow was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Chow Jun Yi began studying piano and music theory at the age of 5. He gained admittance into Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing in 2005 and there studied with Qin Wen Chen, Chen Yong Gang and Tang Jian Ping. After graduation in 2011, Chow began to study in the U.S. at Indiana University, Jacobs School of Music as a student of P.Q. Phan, and completed his Master’s degree in May 2013.

Chow won the Second Prize of Taipei Chinese Orchestra International Composition Competition in 2010 with his Chinese Orchestra work, Kampung. In December 2010, his first symphonic work Getaran was commissioned and premiered by the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and was performed in ‘Past & Present’ –a concert that toured Kuantan, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. In 2012, Chow won the first prize of Singapore International Competition for Chinese Chamber Music Composition. Chow was also the finalist of 2013 United States ASCAP Morton Gould Prize. In August 2016, 10 new works performed by The TENG Ensemble in ‘Stories from an Island’ production at the Esplanade in Singapore. Chow is invited to attend Banff Centre’s five-weeks residency program in Canada in October 2016. March 2017, he received the grand prize of Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra International Composition Competition.

Currently based in New York City. Chow is now the Composer-in-residence of Vivo Experimental Orchestra from Malaysia and The TENG Company from Singapore. As a pianist and cellist, Chow plays Classical repertoire as well as free improvisations with musicians in KL, Beijing, and New York City.