Pipa player / vocalist Min Xiao-Fen, internationally known for her virtuosity and fluid style, is a prototype artist in this tradition. She has influenced countless Chinese musicians and her influence expands to players of all instruments and beyond China as well. Ms. Min learned the pipa with her father, Min Ji-Qian, a professor and pipa master at Nanjing University. Her work as a pipa soloist for the famed Nanjing National Music Orchestra from 1980 to 1992 set the standard for the rest of her career. After arriving in the United States in 1992, she began working with composers Zhou Long, Carl Stone and Chen Yi, then recorded The Moon Rising (Cala), hailed by BBC Music Magazine as "one of the best CDs of 1996," and Spring, River, Flower, Moon, Night (Asphodel), a brilliant solo set of traditional repertoire.
Adventure and exploration have always been a hallmark of this great artist's work, and Min has received high acclaim for her classical, new music and jazz performances. She was featured soloist with the New York City Opera, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the vocal ensemble Chanticleer, the San Diego Symphony and the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, among others. She has performed solo concerts at the Vienna Music Festival, the Utrecht International Lute Festival, the Geneva Music Festival, the Berlin Chinese Music Festival, the New York Guitar Festival and at various jazz festivals in Paris, Quebec and Jakarta. In 1998, Min premiered Tan Dun's Peony Pavilion (Sony), an opera with director Peter Sellars. Viper (Avant), a recording of improvisations with Derek Bailey, was one of The Wire Magazine's "1998 Albums of the Year," and she released Min Xiao-Fen with Six Composers (Avant) in 1999, an exciting solo album of modern works. She was featured on Shaolin Ulysses and The Port of Last Resort (both Tzadik), two movie soundtracks composed by John Zorn, and composed "The Shang." A duet with pianist Randy Weston, recorded Khepera (Verve), then toured the project worldwide.
Min performed a pair of Philip Glass's chamber operas, "The Sound of a Voice" and "Hotel of Dreams," at the Court Theater in Chicago in 2003. Later that year, she was invited to play a solo set of Thelonius Monk’s music by Jazz at Lincoln Center. In 2004, her piece "The Loneliest Monk" was commissioned and played by Kitchen House Blend at the Kitchen in New York. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band asked Min to play as a special guest, and the Taipei Chinese Orchestra invited her to perform the world premiere of Anthony De Ritis' "Ping Pong," a concerto for pipa. 2005 – 2006 highlights included appearances with her Blue Pipa Trio at the JVC Jazz Festival, the Deer Isle Jazz Festival, the world premiere of seven pieces with the Nieuw Ensemble at the Amsterdam-China Music Festival, and six solo concerts in Holland and Belgium organized by RASA (Centre for World Cultures). Ms. Min was also the subject of a feature article in The New York Times by Joseph Horowitz.
In 2007, Min was a featured composer and performer for the American Composers Orchestra’s “Composer Out Front” project. She recorded for Björk’s new album Volta, and was invited by Björk to play as special guest on the Madison Square Garden concert and Radio City in New York. Min received a new commission, Return of the Dragon, from The Kitchen, and also performed with her Asian Trio at The Kitchen. Min has taught master classes and was an artist in residence at schools and universities across the United States and Europe, including the Juilliard School, the Texas A&M University, the Boston Conservatory, the New School, the Haystack Mountain School of Arts Crafts and the Amsterdam Conservatory. She is the founder of Blue Pipa Inc. (www.bluepipa.org) and currently lives in New York City.