Wu Tong, a National Class One Performer of the Central Nationalities Song and Dance Troupe, began studying sheng and suona at age five with his father, and entered the primary school affiliated to the Beijing Central Conservatory of Music in 1983. He graduated in 1994 from the conservatory’s college division, where he trained in Chinese wind instruments.
After meeting Yo-Yo Ma in 2000 at Tanglewood, Wu became a founding member of the Silk Road Ensemble, and has since participated in all of its recordings. He is also the founding vocalist of the Beijing-based metal band Lunhui (Again), the first rock band to appear on Chinese Central Television. Wu has performed as soloist with an array orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, and Hong Kong Philharmonic; made his operatic debut in 2008 playing two roles in Stewart Wallace’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter at San Francisco Opera; and appeared on CBS’s Late Show with David Letterman.
Wu developed a looping technology for a new electronic sheng, giving the Chinese traditional wind instrument a new lease on life, and he wrote and arranged the sound track for Wong Kar Wai’s film Ashes of Time Redux, featuring Mr. Ma; the film was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 and was featured in that year’s New York Film Festival. Wu Tong’s 2011 solo album was nominated for Taiwan’s Golden Melody Award for Best Crossover Album, and he was named the 2012 Musician of the Year by the China Institute in New York. His collaboration with Yo-Yo Ma on “Kuai Le,” featured in Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace, won the Grammy Award for Best Classical Crossover Album in 2010. In November 2013 Wu Tong joined Mr. Ma in the World Premiere of Duo, a double concerto written specifically for them by Chinese composer Zhao Lin.