Shao (pronounced shaw-oh) Rong is a Chinese-born musician based in Japan who plays the Chinese pipa (pronounced pee-pah), a four-string lute. She began taking piano lessons at five and lute lessons at ten. When she was in her second year of junior high school, she applied to the newly established Beijing National Central Music Institute and was among the five students out of 20,000 applicants chosen to attend. She studied the pipa at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing under Liu Dehai, a master of the instrument. Graduating from college in 1987, she returned to her home in Shanghai and joined the National Folk Music Band as a featured soloist. She moved to Japan in 1989 to attend Tokyo National University and remained in Japan after graduating. In 1998, she joined Tempyo-Gafu, an Asian ancient-music ensemble, which toured the U.S. She performed as a soloist with the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in July 1998 and with the Sapporo Symphony in April 1999. Her appearance at the Pan Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo in July 1999 attracted international attention. Signed to Pacific Moon Records, she released her debut solo album Orchid in the U.S. in January 2001.
by William Ruhlmann