Wu Man is the very model of a modern soloist. More importantly, her work is part of a big step in the evolution of Western classical music. The best measure of her achievement is that her instrument, the pipa--a Chinese lute that dates back some 2,000 years--is no longer an exotic curiosity. Symphony audiences have heard her perform concertos by Lou Harrison and Tan Dun. She performs regularly with Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, the Kronos Quartet, as a soloist in Bang on a Can marathons, and in chamber groups and orchestras giving the premieres of works by Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Chen Yi, and Bright Sheng, who have written pipa parts into their works with her sound and dexterity in mind.