For more than ten years in the 1960s and '70s, the doors of universities and conservatories across China were closed as the government suppressed political and cultural expression during the Cultural Revolution. But in 1978, when the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing reopened its doors, a young 13-year-old pipa player named Wu Man was there, ready to audition and embrace the cultural heritage that had been absent from her early childhood. Now, four decades later, Wu has become the world's premier pipa virtuoso, regarded for "[changing] the history of the instrument" (Boston Globe) by not only revitalizing its role in traditional music but by giving her lute-like instrument—which has a history of over 2,000 years in China—a place in contemporary music as well, premiering hundreds of new works and collaborating across genres with renowned musicians around the globe. Through numerous concert tours she has premiered hundreds of new works for the pipa, while spearheading multimedia projects to both preserve and create awareness of China's ancient musical traditions. Her adventurous spirit and virtuosity have led to collaborations across artistic disciplines, allowing her to reach wider audiences as she works to cross cultural and musical borders. Her efforts were recognized when she was named Musical America's 2013 "Instrumentalist of the Year," marking the first time this prestigious award has been bestowed on a player of a non-Western instrument.