the On Ensemble member, Kris Bergstrom plays the Koto,
a Japanese zither-like instrument.
Courtesy of APA
Performing Arts Creates Communities of All Sizes
August 22nd the Grand Performances Summer Concert Series
held its Far East Festival of Music and Dance featuring
five phenomenal acts in the following order: On Ensemble,
the Korean Classical Music Institute Ensemble, the Korean
Dance Academy, Yungchen Lhamo, and Liu Qi Chao with
the Pacific Zheng Ensemble.
Ensemble performers take a quick glamour shot before
a grueling interview. Courtesy
presenters not only sought to provide their audience
with cultural enrichment, but demonstrated a strong
belief in building a sense of community. Different performers
prefer different kinds of communities. They can range
in size from a small handful of tight-knit, innovative
Taiko drummers to a synergistic world community chanting
for global freedom.
Far East Festival opened with the thunderous Taiko drumming
of the On Ensemble quartet who cannot be pigeon-holed
as another genre-bending fusion group. Their mastery
of traditional Japanese instruments, music and vocalization
will testify to that! The members are: Shoji Kameda,
Masato Baba, Kris Bergstrom & Bryan Yamami, filling
in for Michelle Fujii. In the interview following their
show, Kameda, the group's eloquent spokesperson, explained
to me that despite their inclination to push musical
boundaries by combining their modern musical tastes
with traditional Japanese instruments, innovation is
not their motivation. On Ensemble lets themselves have
fun with Taiko drumming, mixing it with their generation's
musical tastes, but they also take Taiko seriously,
even though they don't focus on the traditional technical
aspects of it.
Ensemble lets themselves have fun with Taiko drumming,
mixing it with their generation's musical taste
in for Michelle Fujii, who is currently in Japan, Bryan
Yamami praises the importance the On Ensemble places
in developing a tight-knit Taiko drumming community
that is not so interested in being competitive, but
enjoying and exploring their chosen artform. This close
community relationship was apparent on stage as the
drummers use their drumming as their language to communicate
with each other.
out more about the On Ensemble and Taiko drumming at
Korean Dance Academy dancers amaze the audience
with their performance of the Three-Drum and One-Drum
dance. Courtesy of the
Korean Dance Academy
Korean Dance Academy dancers presented their talents
after the On Ensemble. Their award-winning director,
Jung Im Lee, founded her academy with a sense of community
in mind, and a mission to inspire pride in young Korean-Americans,
while bringing about an awareness of Korean culture
to non-Koreans. Her gift to the Angelino community comes
in the form of her academy's performance of the Fan
Dance, the Three-Drum Dance and the One-Drum Dance.
further acquainted with the Korean Dance Academy at
identically dressed dancers took their places in their
individual three-sided scaffoldings, containing a drum
per side to do the Standing Drum dance. They accompanied
an adolescent girl, playing the towering One Drum. In
unison the sextet jumps, twists and turns while hitting
their drums, never missing a beat.
soaring vocalizations of human sorrow and hope,
she forges a world community...
Tibetan-born a cappella singer, Yungchen Lhamo's took
center stage and her powerful voice melted even the
iciest of souls. Lhamo crossed the Himalayas on foot
to flee Tibet in 1989. Despite the ongoing suffering
that she and her people face, Lhamo still has the ability
to find a glimmer of hope in the darkest of moments.
With soaring vocalizations of human sorrow and hope,
she unites people across the world through her music.
Requesting her audience to join her in song, she led
them in a revolutionary-spirited chant, "Ram-zin,"
which means freedom in the Tibetan language. Improvising
to their chant, she invokes an image of a shooting star,
pulling her chorus to the heavens.
Lhamo captivated her audience with her powerful,
spiritual a cappella vocalizations. Courtesy
about Yungchen Lhamo can be found at yungchenlhamo.com
Liu Qi Chao and the Pacific Zheng Ensemble topped the
night off with a lesson in Chinese musical history.
The master-performer and composer constructs a community
through cultural exchange in his performances. Each
piece gave nature an artistic soundtrack: horses roam
the endless grasslands and magical walnuts rain on tin
roofs. The Mongolian dance sequences also encompassed
Qi Chao has not only composed and performed traditional
Chinese music, he has also collaborated with many Western
artists. Chi Music is his own jazz ensemble. During
his interview, he personally told me that he likes American
music and looks forward to working with American musicians.
Liu Qi Chao holds one of the many Chinese instruments
in his repertoire. Courtesy
Chao's dream is to bring Chinese music to the Western
people. The engaging performance he and the Pacific
Zheng Ensemble put on was not only making that dream
a reality, but was also attracting a new fan base.
performers of the Far East Festival succeeded in teaching
us about their culture, and that the performing arts
can create different kinds of communities. Sharing something
so close to their soul with an audience created a community
where the members conversed in rhythms and cheers.
Qi Chao poses with two members of the Pacific Zheng
Ensemble, for whom Mr. Chao composed the enchanting
music used for the nights performance. Courtesy
you missed the Far East Festival, Grand Performances
still has more free concerts coming up. Also, their
summer concert series is an annual event, so you can
look forward to a whole new array of gifted performers
next year, as well! Please visit grandperformances.org
for more information.