So, when Philip heard my instrument, pipa, and he immediately talked to me, he said, “Let’s spend some time. Let’s work on a piece.”1 But saying that, after 10 years later, finally we had a chance, so he wrote it for me, Orion, with his ensemble. Yeah, I remember when he finished a couple of pages, and I came down to New York to his apartment, and we both sit down. He sit down on the piano, I sit down — I’m holding my pipa, and he played on the piano, I played on my pipa, and we kind of try out if that works for the instrument. We discussed — and of course he listened to tons of my music recordings, so it was very memorable experience, and to play his piece Orion.
That piece also kind of a joint project, you know, I started with my own improvise as a small introduction, and then his music with orchestra coming in. And then I finish at my ending, also I go back to my own sort of little improvisation and finish the whole piece. So, the whole structure also was very interesting as well. But the tone, the way he used pipa, of course, very differently from pipa traditional piece. And I remember every time I play that piece, audience who came to me said — or some press people also say like this is like typical Philip Glass music.2
Yeah, but imagine I remember when we play it in Mexico, and there is same time, same festival, there’s a Chinese Beijing Opera — you know, a group, they will play there, and a lot of opera singer, they came, listened — they came to the concerts afterwards. They got very excited, more excited than me. They’re excited and said, “Wow, pipa could produce, could play American music,” so different, they’re very exciting, yeah.3