Pianist Paula Fan has performed on five continents, recorded more than twenty five commercial albums, and has broadcast for the BBC, NPR, Radio Television China, and international stations from Bosnia to Australia. As one of the first recipients of the doctorate in Collaborative Piano, she has lectured on the subject worldwide. She performed and taught at the University of Arizona Fred Fox School of Music as its only Regents’ Professor, and was Principal Keyboardist and soloist with the Tucson Symphony for many seasons. She has also served as Visiting Professor at the Eastman School of Music, and at numerous conservatories in the People’s Republic of China, where she was the first ever accompanist-coach invited by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. As both performer and teacher, one of her greatest interests has been building bridges between classical music and audiences of all ages and backgrounds, as well as between disciplines.
The daughter of highly indulgent non-traditional Chinese parents, Paula Fan started her career in higher education by writing a show, “Opera is…” which introduced countless Arizona children to opera, using paper hats, hammy melodrama, and original English lyrics to traditional arias. Throughout her academic career, she has explored the world of classical music in different ways with her series of “Time Traveler’s Concerts” in which musicians from history speak as well as perform, “Accompanist’s Lib” concerts highlighting the role of the under-appreciated collaborative pianist, and in performances co-produced with other academic entities, most notably the Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy, AzRISE. She was a founder of the Solar Storytellers--a piano trio playing electric instruments powered by a golf cart with a solar panel for a roof--and with her brother Michael, produced the Dr. Solara Trilogy of children’s solar energy shows performed on the National Mall in Washington DC, at the Aspen Science Center, and in Tucson.
Dr. Fan was part of the team that founded the University of Arizona’s Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, which not only brings together traditionally complementary disciplines within the Humanities and Fine Arts, but also, recognizing that creativity exists within a context, is unique in its inclusion of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. With Confluencenter’s encouragement, her Creative Collaborations series married disciplines from Hospice Care to Cookery with art song, based on her belief that there is classical music for everything. She is now Confluencenter’s first Senior Fellow. She is an alumna of the University of Arizona, where she studied with the virtuoso pianist Ozan Marsh, and of the University of Southern California, where she was mentored by the legendary teachers of Collaborative Piano, Gwendolyn Koldofsky and Brooks Smith.