Gus Holley '20 wins top honors for his musical performance in China

Aug. 15, 2018

Gus Holley ’20, a rising junior at Carleton  College from Moorhead, Minnesota, became the first foreigner ever to win the gold medal at the Liao Yuan Cup International Pipa Competition, considered one of the most important pipa performance competitions in China. Over two thousand pipa players came from all over China to compete in Beijing, with Holley taking top honors among non-professional performers.

The pipa is traditional Chinese plucked string instrument, sometimes called a Chinese lute.

Majoring in both Asian Studies and Music, Holley is also a member of Carleton’s award-winning Chinese Music Ensemble, directed by Gao Hong, a world-class pipa player and composer and Senior Lecturer in Chinese Musical Instruments at the college.

Gao Hong, along with Holley and fellow students Lia Spencer ’18 (North Mankato, Minn.) and Yiqing Yu ’21 (China), spent two months this summer in Quanzhou, China, thanks to the support of the ASIANetwork’s Freeman Student-Fellows Program.

Centered on a research trip to China, their project was designed to document how musicians in the city of Quanzhou maintain and preserve nanyin, a genre of Chinese classical music local to the Fujian province. Working with Gao, the three student participants had the opportunity to improve their Chinese language skills, further develop their musical abilities, transcribe music, interview the local people working to preserve nanyin, and develop a website to document the project. And in Gus' case, also take top honors in an international musical performance competition!

Members of the Chinese Music Ensemble take top honors in New York City

12 October 2017
Three students from the Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble were recently awarded top honors at the 2017 New York Chinese Instruments International Competition on October 7 in New York City. Gold Medals were awarded to Gus Holley ’20 (Moorhead, Minn.) on zhongruan; Gege Zhang ’19 (China) on guqin; and Haoyi Wang ’20 (China) on guzheng.
Chinese Music Ensemble director and Pipa Master Gao Hong was also awarded an Outstanding Teacher Award. The students all performed solos at the Winners Performance on October 8 at the Schwarz Theater in New York City.
Gus’s solo won the highest score overall. He was featured in two of the most prominent overseas Chinese newspapers headquartered in New York and distributed to Chinese communities worldwide, The World Journal and The Sing Tao Daily News USA.  

The Chinese Music Ensemble will perform Sunday, Oct. 29 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Kracum Performance Hall. Under the direction of Gao Hong, the group performs on traditional bowed strings, plucked strings, winds, and percussion instruments. Their repertoire includes Chinese classical, folk, percussion, minority, and contemporary music.

Chinese Music Ensemble Wins 4 Awards at 2014 Huain Cup International Chinese Instrument Competition

10/2/2016 Yijun Wang

Four members of Carleton's esteemed Chinese Music Ensemble were recently honored at the 2014 Huain Cup International Chinese Instrument Competition at the Le Petit Trianon Theatre in San Jose, Calif. A panel comprised of elite musicians and music scholars from the People's Republic of China awarded a Gold Medal to Yawen Chen '15 (China) on the Dizi (Chinese bamboo flute); a Silver Medal to Vicky Wu '17 (China) on the Guzheng (Chinese zither); and Bronze Medals to Xiaodi Wang '16 (China) on the Erhu (Chinese fiddle) and Ken Wang '15 (Canada) on the Sanxian (Chinese banjo).

This year marks the third time Carleton students have competed in this prestigious competition. Kimloan Nguyen '08 took home a Gold Medal on the Pipa (Chinese lute) in 2008, after being awarded a Silver Medal in 2007.

The students' participation in this competition was made possible by the Parents Fund for Academic Excellence from the Dean's Office and the Department of Music. The Carleton College Chinese Music Ensemble is directed by Gao Hong, who serves as the music department’s performance activities coordinator as well as a lecturer in Chinese musical instruments. She is a graduate of the Central Conservatory of Music and has received numerous honors and awards for her work. Gao Hong is a world-renowned Pipa (pear-shaped lute) player and has performed throughout the United States, Europe and Asia with groups including St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Heidelberg Philharmonic, and the (San Francisco) Women’s Philharmonic.

The Chinese Musicians Association of America (CMAA), Chinese Musicians Association of China, National Chinese Orchestra of China presented the 2014 Huain Cup International Chinese Instrument Competition on February 6, 2014. Primarily focused on solo performance on traditional Chinese instruments, the competition is designed to discover talents, promote cultural exchange and friendship. In the multi-cultural American community, it provides an unique opportunity and platform for Chinese musicians to present their talents and introduces Chinese music to a broader audience.

Organizers: Chinese Musicians Association of America (CMAA), Chinese Musicians Association of China, National Chinese Orchestra. Co-Organizer: Central Conservatory of Music of China, Stanford University Pan-Asian Music Festival. The competition also receives tremendous support from the Ministry of Culture of China and the Chinese Consulate-General of San Francisco.