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Discovering the Treasures of Pan-Asian Music

| Dr. Gretchen Peters

To kick off the start of Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, a concert entitled Discovering the Treasures of Pan-Asian Music explores diverse work of APIA performers and composers. The music will range from the Chinese pipa (lute) to Korean gayageum to contemporary compositions by Taiwanese composer, Chiayu Hsu, to the Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra. Discovering the Treasures of Pan-Asian Music will be taking place on May 1st, 2022, at 4:00 PM at the Pablo Center at the Confluence in the RCU Theatre. This event is being sponsored by Pablo Center at the Confluence, University Wisconsin Eau Claire-Artists Series, Music and Theatre Arts Department, Office of Multicultural Affairs, and Office of Research and Sponsored Programs.

Ana Dolny, a UW-EC Music Minor and Psychology Major, has served as the principal initiator and organizer of this event. Ana was inspired to create this event for her peers and increase awareness of APIA music and culture, “My hope for this event is to increase awareness of APIA music and culture. As a student of color in the music department, I took it upon myself to be an advocate and role model in advancing initiatives for equity, diversity, and inclusive programming. It was important to me that students of a similar background to mine can see that we have events with performers, artists, and composers who represent themselves and can relate to. I wanted to make sure that students of a similar background to me feel like they are heard, and empowered. I also hope that this can be a learning opportunity for everyone, regardless of whether they identify as an APIA individual. The biggest takeaway that I hope everyone gets is to become more understanding and aware of multicultural music. Knowing that our UWEC music ed majors have a significant reputation, I encourage our ed majors to become more versatile in their understanding so that they can better support their multicultural students in music.”

This concert will feature a compilation of work by APIA musicians and composers. Among the featured artists is the Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra. Asuka Kakitani, a Japanese-born composer, has projects that range from jazz orchestras to string quartets to women’s vocal quartets. As an advocate of original music, Kakitani co-founded the Twin Cities Jazz Composers’ Workshop and Inatnas Orchestra after relocating to Minnesota in 2016. Kakitani has been the recipient of grants, fellowships, and awards, including the BMI Charlie Parker Jazz Composition Prize, the McKnight Composer Fellowship, and Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative and Creative Support grants. She has been described as "A musical impressionist and supreme colorist" (Hot House Magazine).  

Gao Hong will perform the pipa, a Chinese lute. Hong began her career as a professional musician at age 12, and she graduated with honors from China's premier music school. In both China and the U.S. Gao has received numerous top awards, including five McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians. Gao teaches Chinese musical instruments and directs the Chinese and Global Music Ensembles at Carleton College. 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…”

Chee Hyeon Choi, Assistant Professor of Music at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, will perform The Secret Garden of Arirang by Heeyoung Yang on piano. Heeyoung Yang intimately conveys a Korean traditional tune with a contemporary flavor in her suite, The Secret Garden of Arirang. This suite consists of three movements based on ‘Arirang,’ one of the most well-known and beloved Korean traditional tunes. Choi was the recipient of the 2020 Teacher of the Year Award from the Illinois Music Teachers Association (ISMTA).

Performances by Soojin Lee, professional performer on the gayageum (traditional Korean instrument) will also be highlighted.  Dr. Lee has over 20 years of teaching experience, including general music instruction for high school students in Korea, private instruction of gayageum and piano, and a residency of Korean music and drumming in American schools. Before coming to the United States, Dr. Lee worked for the National Korean Traditional Music High School as a gayageum teacher. She holds a BA and MA degrees in gayageum performance from Seoul National University, South Korea, and a MA in Social Sciences (specialized in Ethnomusicology) from the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD in music education (research interests are multicultural music education and pedagogy for teaching Indigenous music in the formal education system) at the University of Minnesota.