The Kennedy Center

Ann Yao Trio


The zheng is one of ancient China’s most revered instruments. A long, horizontal plucked zither, the zheng, accompanied by the erhu and pipa, epitomizes the sound of the ancient East.

Born into a family of musicians in Shanghai, Ann Yao grew up immersed in Chinese folk and classical music. Ms. Yao studied zheng at the Shaghai Conservatory of Music. In 1982 she toured the U.S. with the Shanghai Musicians Group, and two years later she participated in the Olympic Arts Festival in Los Angles with the Central Traditional Ensemble of Beijing. She moved to the United States in 1985, where she began performing as a zheng soloist at Disneyworld’s Epcot Center in the early 1990s. She has performed at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other venues with the innovative ensemble Music From China, which promotes modern Chinese musical culture while preserving ancient Chinese music. Ms. Yao was selected for the 1999-2000 Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Program Master Artist, was recognized as a Florida Heritage Award Winner in 2009, was among the featured artists in a documentary project entitled Mastering the Art, about Tang-era (618-907 A.D.) music, and has performed premier works featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Chen Yi, Tan Dun, Zhou Long, among others.

Wang Guowei is a world-renowned composer and master of the erhu, a two-stringed fiddle of ancient China. He is equally versatile playing the classic repertoire, as well as new music composed for the erhu and its family of two-string fiddles, and music he has written for Western instruments. Mr. Gouwei is also a graduate of the Shanghai Conservatory of Music.

Chen Yihan accompanies Ms. Yao and Mr. Guowei, playing the pipa, a four-stringed, pear-shaped instrument sometimes referred to as the “Chinese lute.” The pipa’s prominence in Chinese music has spanned for nearly 2,000 years, and is a hallmark of traditional Eastern Music.
  Ann Yao Trio