Meet Hekun Wu

Music Department

Music Events

Willamette University

The French newspaper Nice-Matin recently headlined, "Hekun Wu, globe-trotter virtuoso, is one of the most recognized Chinese musicians in the world… He played a Beethoven Sonata in such a brilliant and powerful manner." Wu enjoys a versatile career as a concert cellist, conductor and chamber musician. He has performed in such cities include Shanghai, Paris, New York, Leipzig, Boston, Chicago, Tokyo, and Taipei, and has been featured on numerous radio and television broadcasts. The Boston Globe described his playing as "bold and very full of conviction, given unusually supple rubato that was beautiful," and the China Times praised his "virtuosic technique with thoughtful and poetic expressivity."

Wu has performed with major orchestras in China including the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and the China Central Philharmonic, giving the Chinese premieres of the Milhaud and Elgar cello concerti, the latter recorded for the CRC label. His Millennium Gala Concert of Cello Concerti at the Shanghai Grand Theatre was highly acclaimed. Wu made his solo début in France with the Orchestre de Bordeaux under Pierre Dervaux at the Ravel Festival, followed by a televised performance in Paris; the legendary French cellist Maurice Gendron wrote to congratulate him, "We saw you performing Fauré's Elégie on French Television, it was very beautiful, Bravo."

Recent performances include a televised recital "Live from the Shanghai Concert Hall;" a recital in New York City under the auspicious of the Korea Music Foundation of New York; a series of recitals of the complete Bach Six Solo Suites, "The Dao of Bach" in Oregon and abroad; chamber music recitals at the Nice International Summer Music Festival in France and the Euroarts Festival in Leipzig; concerto soloist in the New Year's Concert at the Shanghai Oriental Arts Centre and the Chinese premiere of Penderecki's Concerto Grosso with the composer conducting at the Shanghai International Music Festival. In 2007, he joined some of the world's finest musicians for a fundraising event, Requiem for Darfur in Carnegie Hall. Wu has served as resident conductor of the Icicle Creek Chamber Music Festival and music director of the Salem Chamber Orchestra.

He has served as principal cello-solist of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra on tour and in the first recording of The Complete Symphonies of Alexander Tcherepnin (BIS). His released CDs include two world premiere recordings: the Turkish composer, Ahmed Adnan Saygun's Sonata (Musica Mundana) and the American composer, Eric Sawyer's "Five Bagatelles" (Albany Records), as well as a solo album, "Songs and Dances from Distant Lands" (CRC). His recording of the Bach Six Solo Suites is available from MSR Classics.

While increasingly in demand as a cellist and conductor, Wu is also a well-respected teacher. He has held workshops and masterclasses at numerous conservatories and universities including the New England Conservatory, the Longy School, the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Taipei National University of the Arts; the Académie Internationale d'Eté de Nice and the Euroarts Akademie in Leipzig.

Dr. Wu is currently the cello professor and conductor at Willamette University. He has been on the faculties of Wellesley College and the University of Delaware, and previously at the Shanghai Conservatory where he was the youngest cello professor appointed; since 1994, he has regularly held masterclasses. His former students have won top prizes at national and international competitions and serve in principal positions with major orchestras. Wu has served as a juror at major competitions, most recently at the 6th China National Cello Competition in Beijing and as a tone judge at the 18th International Violin Making Competition in Portland.

Born and educated in Shanghai and later at the Paris Conservatoire (CNSM), he completed his graduate studies in the U.S. where he was a recipient of both cello and conducting fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival. Wu studied with renowned cellists Maurice Gendron, Paul Tortelier, Zara Nelsova, Russian cellist Tanya Remenikova, and American cellist Leslie Parnas. As a conductor, he has worked with David Zinman, Murry Sidlin, and Edo de Waart at the American Academy of Conducting.