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Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month celebration begins May 1

| Denise Olson (story); Josiah Lee and David Lee (video)

Throughout the month of May, the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will host events in recognition of Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month.

A variety of events are planned, from music and cinema to Pan-Asian cuisine and a crafting session, all meant to celebrate and elevate the contributions of Asian Pacific Islander Americans on campus and throughout the U.S.

Historically, May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese immigrants to the U.S. and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad for which Chinese immigrants played a significant role as laborers.

A special music event has been planned to kick off the series of events, a concert celebrating Pan-Asian music at Pablo Center at the Confluence at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1.

Kickoff concert: “Discovering the Treasures of Pan-Asian Music”

A multi-artist show, titled “Discovering the Treasures of Pan-Asian Music,” is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, May 1, in RCU Theater of Pablo Center at the Confluence. Tickets are available at the Pablo Center ticketing site.

An audience Q&A session with some of the artists will follow the concert.

This event is a collaboration among Pablo Center, students and faculty in the music and theatre arts department, along with the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the UW-Eau Claire Artists Series.

According to organizers, the goal of the concert is to celebrate Pan-Asian music and foster cultural awareness among students, faculty and community members. It is also intended to promote a safe space to empower campus and community members of the APIA community. The cultural music concert is hoped to serve as a pilot for future collaborative events marking all heritage months throughout the year at UW-Eau Claire.

The artists and groups to be featured are:

  • Asuka Kakitani Jazz Orchestra. Asuka Kakitani, co-founder of the ensemble, is a Japanese-born composer at the forefront of the Brooklyn big-band scene. Her debut album, “Bloom,” was acknowledged among “best debut albums” by the Downbeat Magazine Critics’ Poll and NPR Music Jazz Critics’ Poll.
  • Chee Hyeon Choi, assistant professor of music in residence at Bradley University. Choi actively performs at various venues for solo and ensemble concerts, including the “Music by Women International Festival,” and shows with the Salt Creek Chamber Orchestra, Bradley Symphony Orchestra and the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra.
  • Soojin Lee, a professional performer and instructor of the gayageum, a traditional Korean string instrument, along with Korean drumming, piano and general music.
  • Gao Hong, a master of the Chinese lute called the pipa, Hong has performed internationally throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Asia and the U.S. in solo concerts and with symphony orchestras, jazz musicians and musicians from other cultures.
  • Taiko Arts Midwest, the Ensō Daiko ensemble. Taiko is the Japanese word for drum and refers to the modern style of playing these drums. Ensō Daiko has educated thousands of students of all ages and abilities about this artform through performances, classes and residencies. Their shows are high-energy performance art that combines music, dance, martial arts, athletics and culture.
Other APIA Heritage Month events

Monday, May 2: Pan-Asian cuisine in Dulany Inn. Through a new collaboration between APIA students and Sodexo chefs, exciting new Pan-Asian dishes and flavors are featured for a special day of cultural delights. Lunch is served from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and reservations can be made at dining@uwec.edu.

Wednesday, May 4: All-day cultural craft event. Visit the OMA Resource Center anytime between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. to create traditional Chinese lanterns, a symbol of good luck. Take home a lantern and enjoy snacks with friends both old and new. This event is for UW-Eau Claire students.

Thursday, May 5: Open mic night, 6-8 p.m. in The Cabin. Come to The Cabin in Davies Center to express yourself. Sip, snack and enjoy various short student and faculty performances, featuring spoken word, traditional Chinese instruments, karaoke and more. This event is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, May 10: Movie night at 7 p.m. in the Woodland Theater. Enjoy a group viewing of the Korean-American film “Minari.” Written and directed by Isaac Lee Chung, “Minari” presents the gritty and inspiring story of assimilation for a Korean family in rural Arkansas. This film screening is free and open to the public.

Thursday, May 12: Closing banquet from 5-7 p.m. in Ojibwe Ballroom. Join a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month at a festive and fun closing banquet. The evening will include Chinese Tai Chi sword performances, group dance and a variety of Pan-Asian food dishes.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Hui Niu Wilcox, associate professor of sociology and women’s studies at St. Catherine University and founder of the Ananya Dance Theatre. Her talk will address Asian American assimilation as an American ideology. Reservations are required and can be made online here.