Rao Lan - Soprano
Technical ability and variety of musical expression
Soprano Lan Rao was born into a literary family in Guangzhou. Her father, Bing Cai Rao, a linguist at Ji Nan University, and her mother, Zhi Ying Zhou, a music teacher and librarian, encouraged her talent in music and literature. When she was 16, Ms Rao started receiving formal vocal training from Chau In Ha. By 19, she had been on her first concert tour as a soloist, performing with the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. She then studied with Xue Geng Tang and Lin Chen at Beijing Conservatory.
Ms Rao’s talent was discovered by the violinist Hellmut Stern, who was touring in China with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (under Herbert von Karajan) in 1979 when he listened to her performance. With Stern’s help, Ms Rao was awarded a seven-year Deutsche Bank scholarship to study in Germany, (a scholarship rarely awarded to foreign artists).
In Germany, Ms Rao studied with Professors Arleen Augér, Reiner Hoffmann and Hartmut Höll and graduated from the Frankfurt Music Academy. She then completed her master degree with professors Reri Grist, Erik Werba and Helmut Deutsch at the Munich Music Academy. During her studies, she won first prize at the International Lieder (German song) Competition in Vienna and the Singer’s Achievement Prize for Lieder Competition in Frankfurt/Main.
Since then, Ms Rao has performed as a concert soloist with renowned orchestras from Europe, USA and Asia. These include the Schleswig-Holstein Festival Orchestra under Leonard Bernstein, where she sang his opus “Song Festival” in Germany, London and Moscow. She has also appeared as soloist with the Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Classical Philharmony Bonn, Baden-Baden Southwest Radio Orchestra, German Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Concerto Bamberg, Munich Bach-Motette Choir and Orchestra, Göttingen Symphonic Orchestra , Wiesbaden Johann Strauss , Stuttgart Chamber Orchestera, Dresden Philharmonic Orchestra , Orchestra Sinfonica Arturo Toscanini (Italy), Belgium Royal Philharmony Orchestra Vlaanderen , Lincoln Orchestra (USA), Russia String Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra and many others.
Ms Rao’s repertoire ranges from Baroque to late Romantic. In addition to German songs, she has also devoted herself to Chinese compositions. For the past decade she has also been very successful in singing 20 th Century compositions. Her technical ability and variety of musical expression have afforded her the opportunity to premiere many works, some of which have been dedicated especially to her.
Ms Rao’s numerous concert performances, radio and television appearances, as well as her CD recordings with BMG-Arte Nova , Wergo, Salto Records, Cala, Cavallie Records and China Records attest to her being one of the outstanding singers of her generation. Her CD recordings of works for soprano and piano include music by F. Schubert, C. Schumann, J. Brahms, F. Hensel Mendelssohn and various 19 th and 20th century female composers. Ms Rao has also recorded works for soprano and orchestra by Kühnls, L. Zhou, the Trio Roter Phoenix and the World famous Collections Vol.1.
Most recently, Ms Rao was invited to China as a soloist for a number of concerts, where she performed with the Beijing Central Philharmonic Orchestra (Mahler Symphony No.2), at the Beijing International Music Festival (Solo concert featuring songs with lyrics by Goethe) and with the China Philharmonic Orchestra (Mahler Symphony No.4 and No. 8 “Symphony for 1000”), Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra (Beethoven’s “Egmont”), Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra (2001 New Year Concert: Solo cantata “Exultate jubilate” by Mozart, and 2004 “Christmas Solo Concert”), Macao Chamber Orchestra (Easter Oratorio Concert) and the Hong Kong Sinfonietta(14.04.2006 Mozartsolokantate and Mahler Symphony No.4 ).
Among German audiences and European critics, Ms Rao has been hailed as a Chinese soprano who can convincingly interpret and present the works of German composers: