A singing, songwriting, Nashville-based clawhammer banjo player, Abigail Washburn pairs venerable folk elements with far-flung sounds, and the results feel both strangely familiar and unlike anything anybody’s ever heard before. An alumna of the Middlebury Chinese School, Washburn speaks Chinese and is able to make profound connections to culture and people on the other side of the Pacific. Washburn is one of the few foreign artists currently touring China independently and regularly. She records in English and Chinese as a soloist and with her husband, Béla Fleck, as well as with the old-time band Uncle Earl and Sparrow Quartet.
Born and raised in Beijing, Wu Fei is a composer, vocalist and guzheng (Chinese zither) performer. She spent her formative years at the China Conservatory of Music before coming to the US in 2000 where she began to diversify her sound and experiment widely, working with musicians like John Zorn, Fred Frith, Carla Kilhstedt, Evan Parker, Pauline Oliveros, and many others. Wu Fei composes for choir, string quartet, chamber ensemble, Balinese gamelan, and orchestra; her commissions include a composition for Percussions Claviers de Lyon that premiered in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. Wu has also appeared as a guest on Fred Frith’s Eye to Ear II (2004, Tzadik) and The Happy End Problem (2006, ReR).
At Middlebury, Abigail Washburn and Wu Fei will perform as a banjo-guzheng duo, playing & singing a selection of songs that combine their traditional Appalachian and Chinese influences.
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