HELLO GOLD MOUNTAIN is an original composition by Wu Fei for chamber orchestra, performed by chatterbird ensemble, featuring Wu Fei on guzheng and Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz (Silk Road Ensemble) on oud — the traditional Chinese and Jewish plucked string instruments respectively.
The piece is inspired by stories of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai from Europe during World War II. From 1933 until the end of the war, Shanghai was often the only port at which Jewish refugees fleeing Europe could disembark without a visa. In the early 1940s, more than 20,000 Jews lived in Shanghai and contributed to its cultural and civic life.
But the Jews could not stay. As China’s bloody civil war came to a close in 1949, most fled. Many emigrated to the US, often arriving at the port of San Francisco, or Old Gold Mountain 旧金山.
What musical possibilities were lost because the times did not allow neighbors from these different cultures to grow old together, sharing songs and stories? Similarly, what artistic creations will be lost if Europe and the United States close the door to refugees and migrants from lands in chaos?
Chatterbird will partner with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the Jewish Community Center, and others to present a range of historical and educational workshops.
Hello Gold Mountain premiered February 23, 2019 at Vanderbilt University's Ingram Hall in Nashville, TN. Mentioned in the New York Times, Hello Gold Mountain continues to tour and spread awareness across the country.
For booking inquiries, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photographs by Melville Jacoby, courtesy Peggy Stern Cole via Bill Lascher. To learn more about Jacoby, see Eve of a Hundred Midnights, by Bill Lascher. More information at eveofahundredmidnights.com. These photos were taken in October or November of 1939.
Born and raised in Beijing, Wu Fei is a composer, vocalist and performer of the guzheng (Chinese zither), as well as the piano. She began performing guzheng at the age of six, and spent her formative years studying composition at the China Conservatory of Music. She holds an M.A. in Composition from Mills College where she studied improvisation and composition.
Wu Fei has performed and recorded with musicians such as John Zorn, Fred Frith, Billy Martin (Medeski-Martin-Wood), Carla Kilhstedt (Tin Hat Trio), and Grammy winning musicians Abigail Washburn and Béla Fleck. 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. Fei has performed at The Great Hall of The People in Beijing, EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, The Stone and MoMA in New York City, Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Vossa Jazz in Norway, Europalia in Belgium, and Madame Guitar Festival in Italy. Fei has also been a guest lecturer and performer at institutions including China Conservatory of Music, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and The Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.
chatterbird is a chamber music ensemble that explores alternative instrumentation, stylistic diversity, and interdisciplinary collaboration in order to create thoughtful, intimate, and inventive musical experiences. Formed in 2014, chatterbird performs classical music that skirts traditional boundaries, sliding between classical, jazz, hip-hop, rock, avant-garde, and country, creating a thoughtful and inventive way to discover and experience modern classical music. chatterbird brings cutting-edge chamber music repertoire into spaces where you wouldn’t usually find it, like bars, galleries, breweries, basements, and everywhere in between.
Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz — acoustic bass, electric bass, oud, gimbri — was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1975 to Polish and Egyptian parents. He was given his first instruments, the pots and pans from the kitchen and a three string guitar at the age of two.
Shanir is featured on over 50 releases on John Zorn's Tzadik record label since 1999 - producing and arranging many of the bands he works with, including Rashanim "The Gathering", Edom "Hope And Destruction", Pitom "Blasphemy And Other Serious Crimes", and the "Kef" self titled debut. In 2011, Shanir produced and arranged the cd "Caym", featuring Cyro Baptista's Banquet Of The Spirits - comprised of compositions by John Zorn as part of the Masada "Book Of Angels" series on Tzadik. Other cds by Cyro Baptista include the self titled debut of "Banquet Of The Spirits" and "Infinito" - with compositions and arrangements by Shanir. He has performed in concert halls and festival stages all over the world with John Zorn, ABRAXAS, Banquet of the Spirits, Yemen Blues, Zion80, Edom, Pitom, Rashanim, Satlah, Kef, Pharaoh's Daughter, and recently joining Yo-Yo Ma playing oud, bass, gimbri, and arranging music for the Silk Road Project.
In 2017, Shanir founded a new record label called Chant Records.