By Neal Ganguli
Have you ever heard someone play the pipa before? Neither had I, until I had the pleasure of meeting Leah Ou of O’s Pipa. Hailing from Chengdu, China, Leah is a classically trained pipa teacher and performer, and she’s come to Rochester to put a new spin on traditional Chinese music. Using techniques she’s worked on since she was 6 years old, she both performs classical Chinese music as well as her own compositions taking inspiration from American rock and folk genres.
When Leah first started to travel to Rochester, she found herself busking at the public market and the Jazz Festival, and people started to take notice – after all, according to Leah, it’s hard to find pipa musicians in Rochester. As a classical musician, she does enjoy performing more traditional, composed work, but she's always had her own ideas on how to apply the techniques she's learned in new ways – she’s not afraid to draw upon deeper, personal experiences and express them in her music. Leah is currently working on her second album, which will include a mixture of classical Chinese techniques and her own compositions, collaborating with other local musicians to both compliment and highlight the pipa. The sound of the pipa is very familiar to Leah; it’s important to her that others have the experience of listening to such a unique instrument, and I would encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to do so.
Leah will be playing at The Little every Monday in July, from 7-9pm.
You can find her music here: https://ospipa.bandcamp.com/