It’s always a thrill to see virtuosi demonstrate their passion. Whether it’s watching a skydiver jump from 25,000 feet up and nail a landing without a parachute or hearing Kendrick Lamar spit hot fire in front of an audience, it’s amazing to see somebody at the top of their game. In this case, the woman who’s at the top of her game is named Wu Man, and she is a pipa player with fingers like the Flash.
For those unfamiliar with the pipa, it’s a Chinese stringed instrument that’s plucked and twanged, much like a lute. It has a distinctive regional sound to it however, which is no surprise considering it’s been used as a musical instrument in China for roughly 2,000 years.
In terms of Wu Man’s credentials as a virtuoso: she’s been playing the pipa since she was nine, was the first non-Western musician to win Instrumentalist of the Year by Musical America, and has recorded and appeared on 40 albums—five of which were nominated for Grammy Awards.
In the video above, created for The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Man busts out with a presumably spot-on rendition of “White Snow in Spring” (a 125 year-old track written by a Qing Dynasty pipa master), demonstrating her lightning-fast finger work and some delightfully twangy and uptempo music; all with a sound more similar to a banjo than a lute.
If you want to learn more about Wu Man’s extensive background in music, you can check out her online biography here. You could also watch Kung Fu Panda 3, which features Man’s music — if you like your pipa with a side of Master Shifu.
Speaking of Master Shifu, who’s the master of the comments section below?! Is it you? There’s only one way to show us that you’re a virtuoso of speaking your mind!
Images: The Met