“ ‘A Happy Excursion,’ a double concerto that has its American premiere on Wednesday with the New York Philharmonic, takes its title from an ancient Taoist text,” writes Joshua Barone in Wednesday’s (3/6) New York Times. “But it could just as easily describe the joyous performance of its soloists, Yo-Yo Ma and Wu Man…. Mr. Ma, a superstar cellist; Ms. Wu, the world’s leading pipa player and a tireless ambassador for that lutelike Chinese instrument…. They’ve played together at the White House and with Mr. Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble. Among their collaborators has been Zhao Lin, who wrote ‘A Happy Excursion’ and, in the spirit of Silkroad, has already blended traditionally Eastern and Western instruments in another double concerto: ‘Duo’ (2013), for cello and sheng, a Chinese reed instrument. His latest concerto—a lush and cinematic work in three movements—pairs the cello and the pipa, which dates back more than 2,000 years.” Ma notes that the title “A Happy Excursion” is “a little misleading.” Wu explains, “In Chinese, everyone understands it. A better translation is that you’re more a kind of scholar. It’s the ideal life. With imagination, you can go everywhere you want to go.”

Posted March 8, 2019

In photo: From left, Wu Man, Yo-Yo Ma, and conductor Long Yu with the New York Philharmonic in the American premiere of Zhao Lin’s concerto “A Happy Excursion.” Photo by  Chang W. Lee / The New York Times