Gao Hong, a Chinese musical prodigy and master of the pear-shaped lute, the pipa, began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated with honors from China's premier music school, the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, where she studied with the great pipa master Lin Shicheng. In both China and the U.S. Gao has received numerous top awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition and an International Art Cup in Beijing. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2012 she became the first musician in any genre to win four McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. The Minnesota State Arts Board has awarded her with an Artist Assistance Fellowship, an Artist Initiative Grant, and a Cultural Community Partnership grant. She has also received a LIN (Leadership Initiatives in Neighborhoods) Grant from the St. Paul Companies; three Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grants; an Asian Pacific Award; and an Encore award, a Subito award, and two Performance Incentive Funds from the American Composers Forum.

Gao has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians, and musicians from other cultures. She has performed at many major festivals worldwide. Her performances have included those at the Lincoln Center Festival; Carnegie Hall; the San Francisco Jazz Festival; the Smithsonian Institution; the Next Wave Festival; Festival d'Automne a Paris in Paris and Caen, France; the International Festival of Perth, Australia; and the Festival de Teatro d'Europa in Milan, Italy. Her performances of pipa concerti with symphony orchestras include several world, U.S., and regional premieres and performances with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, Heidelberg (Germany) Philharmonic, the Women's Philharmonic in San Francisco, the Portland (Maine) Symphony, and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra among others. In addition, she performed with the Lincoln Center production of “The Peony Pavilion.”

As a composer, she has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, Theater Mu, IFTPA, Danish guitarist Lars Hannibal, and Twin Cities Public Television for the six-part series "Made in China." Meet the Composer Inc. in New York City has awarded her two Creative Connections grants and two MetLife Creative Connections grants.

In addition to Gao Hong’s own solo performances of her compositions worldwide, her music has been performed internationally by many world class musicians. In 2000, Song of the Pipa, a play based on Gao Hong’s life and the life of Chinese poet, Bai Juyi, received 20 performances by Theater Mu and featured live musical accompaniment and new compositions by Gao Hong. In 2007 her first choral composition - “The Coming of Spring” - was one of five pieces selected out of 128 applicants nationwide for a reading session by VocalEssence. The piece was premiered by VocalEssence at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul in 2008. "Awakening" - her newly commissioned piece from the Jerome Foundation - was premiered by Gao Hong and Speaking in Tongues at Muziekgebouw aan het IJ in Amsterdam in March, 2007. In the same year she was also selected to participate in a composer’s workshop hosted by the new music ensemble, Zeitgeist, and premiered her new composition “Courage” - for pipa and percussion - with Present Music in Milwaukee. In 2008, to celebrate Gao Hong's 35th anniversary of playing her pipa and 10 years as a composer, Hong headlined two major concerts featuring her compositions at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and Ted Mann Hall in Minneapolis. She composed a special pipa and sitar duet with guest artists Shubhendra Rao on sitar- a top disciple of Ravi Shankar - and rising young tabla star Biplab Bhattacharya. Three of her works received their world premieres and were performed by taiko drum master Kenny Endo, David Hagedorn on percussion, cellist Michelle Kinney, Gao Hong on pipa, and Indian vocalist and veena player Nirmala Rajasekar.

Since her arrival in U.S. in 1994, Gao Hong has been featured in over 100 newspaper and magazine articles and four television documentaries. Including on the NPR radio show “Performance Today” (the most- listened-to classical music radio show in America, hosted by Fred Child), MPR "The Joy of Pipa" hosted by Karl Gehrke and The CBS Radio KMOX 1120 with Charlie Brennan Show in St Louis. She has presented hundreds of educational workshops for elementary through college-age students, and has been on the faculty of Metropolitan State University and MacPhail Center for the Arts. She is currently on the music faculty of Carleton College where she teaches Chinese instruments and directs the Chinese Music Ensemble. She is also a Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing and a Guest Professor of Tianjin Conservatory of Music in China. She is a roster artist with the Minnesota State Arts Board.

China's foremost music publication, "People's Music," wrote of Gao Hong that "like the famous Luoyang peony, she has gradually emerged as the best of all beautiful flowers...her performance has extremely strong artistic appeal and belongs under the category of 'fine wine'...the more you listen, the more beautiful it gets..."