Co-founders Xiang Gao and Cathy Yang write and play world music, crossover chamber music and jazz - performed with synced visual elements and electronic sound libraries paired with each original composition and arrangement.
The erhu, a Chinese two-stringed violin, is an essential instrument in the East, as the four-stringed violin is in the West. Inspired by the historical connection between the two instruments and by YoYo Ma and his Silk Road Project, the crossover ensemble 6-WIRE was founded by two virtuoso soloists on these instruments. The group celebrates diversity while transforming the way live instrumental music is experienced.
6-Wire 10x10 Q&A
How did 6-Wire come to be?
Xiang and Cathy were invited to perform in a concert in Washington D.C. and were asked to play a piece together. After the concert, they decided form an ensemble to reunite the violins of the East and West that both shared their origins in ancient Persia. “6-WIRE” refers to the combination of the two strings of the erhu and the four strings of the violin.
Through your instruments, you combine the East and West in your music. What do you appreciate about the unique sounds and cultures of these two regions?
Making music together with the erhu and violin brings out our dual sense of “home” that comes from growing up in China and living in the US. The freedom (and difficulty!) that comes from the erhu’s lack of fingerboard and inherent sliding evokes sounds of Beijing opera, while the violin brings a rich tradition of Western classical works. But even more exciting, in today’s divided world, is bringing these instruments and cultures back together to show the world how connected we really are.
Playing New World music from Ireland, China, the U.S. and more, do you have a favorite style of music to perform? If so, what is it and why?
We don’t have a single favorite style, and our own style is constantly evolving as we explore different instrumentation from around the world.
Pick six words—that start with the letter ‘W’—that best describe your work.
Welcoming, worldly, warm, wholehearted, wild, wired (pun intended)
What is the best advice that you have been given; and what advice would you give to aspiring musicians in the audience?
There is no such thing as being over-prepared. The rewarding fulfillment from a career in music is directly proportional to the sacrifice you give to it.
Whom do you define as visionary; and why?
Yo-Yo Ma, for his Silk Road Project and its ability to connect cultures from around the world and create new forms of expression.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a part of 6-Wire?
It is exciting to pioneer the style of the 21st century by combining influences and traditions from around the world into new works and unique concert programming. We thrive off our audiences’ energy when they hear and experience new combinations of instruments and it only inspires us to break down more barriers between styles.
What are some unique or memorable experiences you’ve had while traveling around the world to share your music?
We have toured in China as well, and it is wonderful to see that Chinese audiences are just as open and enthusiastic about mixing Eastern and Western instruments and styles. We received equally rousing applauses for performances of an American triple concerto commissioned for 6-WIRE and percussion as we did for a Chinese composition in collaboration with numerous Chinese musicians and instruments. While the world focuses on the adversarial nature of US-China relations, we choose to highlight our shared love for the arts and what makes us human.
What message do you hope to send the world via your music?
We believe that sharing music, like stories, and food, promotes understanding and broadened perspective. 6-WIRE’s mission is to break down barriers through new compositions that connect cultures from around the world.
What songs, artists or genres of music are you currently listening to?
Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road albums, Piazzolla (Le Grand Tango, Oblivion, 4 Seasons of Buenos Aires), Sibelius Violin Concerto, Jazz Fusion (Chick Corea)