OZ ARTS NASHVILLE PRESENTS ABIGAIL WASHBURN AND WU FEI, JUNE 1
A special cross-cultural collaboration between GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter and clawhammer banjo player and master Guzheng (21-String Chinese Zither) virtuoso
Performance on International Children’s Day celebrates the culmination of a year-long series of public school visits in partnership with OZ Arts, made possible by Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Paiken Foundation
NASHVILLE, TENN. – May 1, 2017 - OZ Arts Nashville is pleased to present GRAMMY-winning singer, songwriter and clawhammer banjo player Abigail Washburn in concert with Beijing native and master guzheng (21-string Chinese zither) virtuoso Wu Fei in concert, on International Children’s Day, June 1. The evening culminates a year-long collaboration between these seemingly disparate artists, in which they have given creative workshops and performances for young people in area schools. Together, they seamlessly combine traditional Appalachian and Chinese folk music to create something new and uniquely complementary.
The concert will begin at 7:30pm. Tickets are free for children 12 and under, $30 for adults and can be purchased as of May 3, 2017 at www.ozartsnashville.org. OZ Arts is located at 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle in Nashville, Tenn.
Working together as an entirely unique banjo-guzheng ensemble, Washburn and Wu embrace improvisation and non-traditional techniques in their music composition and performance. Their lyrics share similar tales, their music inspires audience participation, and their presentation encourages listeners from diverse communities to embrace an open dialogue. In concert at OZ Arts, they will share songs they have written and honed together over the course of a year. To support the mission behind their music, Washburn & Wu have started a non-profit called The Ripple Effect, which aims to reach, connect, bridge and expand hearts and minds through the unique sounds, harmony and culture of American and Chinese folk music.
In early 2016, Abigail and Fei partnered with OZ Arts Nashville to receive a Creation Project Grant by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission. The grant would fund a series of school visits and allow Abigail and Fei to share their multi-cultural music with the children of Nashville. Soon after the idea was developed, The Paiken Foundation came on board to offer the duo a matching grant and thus launched them into a year-long journey. They visited and performed at six schools with additional workshops, culminating into the final performance you will see on June 1 to celebrate International Children’s Day.
“OZ Arts is thrilled to have been able to collaborate with Abby & Fei, and to have received such wonderful support from the Metro Nashville Arts Commission,” said Lauren Snelling, artistic director at OZ Arts Nashville. “Our relationships with area schools have expanded significantly over the past year, and this project has created a path for new collaborative projects currently in development.”
We Fei adds, "Can't wait to see some of the students again from the schools that Abby and I played for. I'm super excited about sharing the new collaborations between the two us and the students with our audience. It's going to be an emotional day for Abby and me. I'm also very much looking forward to letting everyone know that this is just the beginning of what Abby and I plan to do for our youth community in Nashville as well as the rest of the nation.”
Abigail Washburn’s music ranges from the “all-g’earl” string band sound of Uncle Earl to her bi-lingual solo release Song of the Traveling Daughter (2005) and the mind-bending “chamber roots” sound of the Sparrow Quartet, to the rhythms, sounds and stories of Afterquake, her fundraiser CD for the Sichuan earthquake victims. The New York Times praised her 2011 release, City of Refuge, written with collaborator Kai Welch, saying the the songs ‘mingle Appalachia and folk-pop, with tinges of Asia and Bruce Springsteen.” She recorded her recent release Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn (2014) with her husband, 15-time GRAMMY Award-winning banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck. Currently they are touring the world as a “trio” with their growing little boy Juno.
Having toured extensively in China, Washburn is also armed with a proficiency in speaking Mandarin and profound connections to culture and people on the other side of the Pacific. She is one of the few foreign artists currently touring China independently and regularly. She completed a month-long tour (Nov-Dec 2011) of China's Silk Road supported by grants from the US Embassy, Beijing. Washburn, along with 24 other innovative and creative thinkers worldwide, was named a TED fellow and gave a talk at the 2012 TED Convention in Long Beach about building US-China relations through music. She has been commissioned by New York Voices and the Public Theater in New York to write and debut a theatrical work, Post-American Girl, which draws from her 17-year relationship with China and addresses themes of expanding identity, cultural relativism, pilgrimage, the universal appeal of music and opening the heart big enough to fold it all in. Washburn was recently named the first U.S.-China Fellow at Vanderbilt University.
Wu Fei is a master of the ancient 21-string guzheng and beautifully harnesses its 2,000 year old musical vernacular. Trained as a Western classical composer and vocalist at Mills College in Oakland, CA, Wu spent years immersed in the New York downtown improvisation scene where she nurtured a blending of her Western and Chinese traditional sensibilities with a contemporary indiosyncratic, experimental dialect. Wu Fei has performed and recorded with musicians such as Fred Frith, John Zorn, Billy Martin (of Medeski-Martin-Wood), Carla Kilhstedt, Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck, to name a few. Her commissions range from a composition for the Percussions Claviers de Lyon (France) that premiered in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing to live performances in Paris and Tokyo for Hermès. She has composed for Balinese gamelan, symphony orchestra, choir, string quartet, chamber ensemble, film and modern dance. She has performed at The Stone and MoMA in New York City, North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Vossa Jazz Festival in Norway, Europalia in Belgium, Beijing MIDI Festival, and Madame Guitar Festival in Italy. Fei has also been a guest lecturer and performer at the China Conservatory of Music, University of Richmond, University of Colorado at Boulder and more. Her solo albums are A Distant Youth (2007, Forrest Hill, Italy; 2012 re-released on Naturebliss Records, Japan) and Yuan (2008, Tzadik Records). Her most recent release is Pluck (2011), the eponymous record of her duo with Brooklyn based classical guitarist Gyan Riley. Wu Fei and her family departed Beijing, China in 2015 to become residents of Nashville, and she has since immersed herself in the growing scene of contemporary classical music in Music City.
This program is supported in part by Metro Nashville Arts Commission and the Danielle Rose Paiken Foundation.
About OZ Arts Nashville
Since opening in 2014, OZ Arts Nashville, a 501(c)(3) contemporary arts center, has changed the cultural landscape of the city. Housed in the former C.A.O. cigar warehouse owned by Nashville’s Ozgener family, OZ Arts brings world-class performances and art installations to the city, and gives ambitious local artists opportunities to work on a grand scale. The flexible 10,000 square-foot, column-free venue, nestled amidst five acres of artfully landscaped grounds, is continually reconfigured to serve artists’ imaginations, and to challenge and inspire a diverse range of curious audiences.
OZ Arts, under the artistic leadership of Lauren Snelling, has presented luminaries such as Philip Glass and Tim Fain, Tim Robbins’ The Actors’ Gang, Wayne McGregor | Random Dance, Kyle Abraham and Abraham.In.Motion, Peter Brook’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, Vijay Iyer and ICE (International Contemporary Ensemble), the Trisha Brown Dance Company, Laurie Anderson, Dorrance Dance, SITI Company and Bang On a Can All-Stars, among others. OZ Arts has additionally shown admirable leadership for a new institution with co-commissions for new work in development (ETHEL’s Documerica, Phantom Limb Company’s Memory Rings, New Dialect’s Souvenirs, Taylor Mac’s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music), and significant artist residencies (Phantom Limb Company, Trisha Brown Dance Company, Mike Daisey). OZ Arts also serves as a catalyst for local creativity through its TNT (Tennessee Things) program, which fosters collaborations between Tennessee-based artists from varying creative disciplines and commits to large-scale, quarterly presentations within the annual artistic season. Its newest series, the Artists’ Lounge, area artists are provided an opportunity to develop work before a live audience, including fellow artists, in the venue’s intimate lounge space.
OZ Arts regularly invites the community to engage with visiting & local artists and artworks – either directly through post-show artist talks, or through workshops, master classes, school performances, field trips and/or curated programs led by local teaching artists. OZ School Days is a daylong, multi-arts program that is presented four times annually in partnership with Centennial Performing Arts Studios in Nashville. OZ School Days is open to students aged 5 – 15yrs when Metro Nashville Public Schools are out of session (ex: Columbus Day, Presidents Day). Each date has a unique, contemporary theme to coincide with OZ Arts programs or happenings in the general public, and students rotate through workshops in visual art, theater, music, movement and/or poetry in groups separated by age.