The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco in association with Asian Improv aRts, API Cultural Center, Chinatown Community Development Center and Chinese Progressive Association present the 5th Annual Chinatown Music Festival on Saturday, August 16 from 11:00am to 5:00pm at Portsmouth Square on Kearny Street between Washington Street and Clay Street in San Francisco’s Chinatown. The Festival is free and for more information, visit www.c-c-c.org or call (415) 986-1822 x31 or x32.
The all day music festival will bring together San Francisco visitors and residents alike and will present the work of composer/pianist Jon Jang, the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble, the psychedelic rock of Queen Crescent, CPA Youth Mojo drum ensemble under the direction Chinese traditional instrumentalist Yangqin Zhao and Japantown taiko performer Melody Takata, the rhythm and blues of Chinatown’s Jest Jammin’, and live interactive performance art by installation artist Summer Lee. Also featured will be crafts, games, and a new exhibit sharing the work of Summer Lee in CCC’s gallery entitled Into the Nearness of Distance. The 2001 film Shaolin Soccer will be screened during the Festival in the CCC Auditorium. In this uproarious, yet touching comedy directed by Stephen Chow, Sing is a skilled Shaolin kung fu devotee whose amazing ‘leg of steel’ catches the eye of a soccer coach.
The theme this year is “Without Walls.” This theme references the sense of inclusiveness of the Chinatown community as well as CCF and its allies’ creative placemaking strategies that emphasize the neighborhood’s value as an arts destination featuring public art, historic architecture, pop-up art spaces like the Keyword Studio, living cultural practices in open spaces like Portsmouth Square, as well as formal museum and gallery spaces. Partnering with CCC once again will be the Chinatown Community Development Center, the Chinese Progressive Association, the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum, Asian Improv aRts and the API Cultural Center.
With over six million visitors a year, San Francisco’s Chinatown is the largest Chinese community outside of Asia, the oldest Chinatown in North America and a major catalyst for social, economic, artistic and cultural changes in America for more than 150 years. The Festival will personify the history of Chinatown and the ongoing Chinese-American experience of combining tradition and innovation with history and modernity. The Festival aims to foster a greater understanding of Chinatown, enhance tourism and convey the optimism and forward-looking perspective of the neighborhood.
Pianist/Composer Jon Jang’s ensemble will premiere Toisan Railway, commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission, which pays tribute to the landmark achievement of Chin Gee Hee, an entrepreneur who built the first railroad in Toisan, China in 1920, despite the many obstacles stacked up against him. Toisan Railway also honors the Toisanese, the majority of Chinese immigrants from Guangdong Province, who built the first transcontinental railroad in United States and supported the making of the Sunning (Toisan) Railway in China through their labor and financial support. Toisan Railway features a chamber music ensemble led by Jon Jang on piano with Francis Wong, tenor saxophone; Jim Norton, soprano saxophone; John Worley, trumpet; Cathleen Torres, French horn; Gary Brown, double bass and Deszon X. Claiborne, percussion. The guest narrator will be CCF Executive Director Mabel Teng.
Led by the Rev. Norman Fong, Jest Jammin’ aka “Chinatown Soul Band”, has entertained the public for over 40 years. Historic in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and comprised of “home grown” talent, Jest Jammin’ is the last of the “Local Chinatown bands” from the 60’s and 70’s. They have been performing their wide repertoire of music from the soulful 60’s and 70’s, including tunes from recent decades. Jest Jammin’ can be seen in numerous venues throughout Northern California, from college campuses to large public functions.
Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble (LJYE) Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist, composer, public school educator, former San Francisco Arts Commissioner, and LJYE Music Director John Calloway created the group in 2001 with Arturo Riera and Sylvia Ramirez, a husband and wife team who provide the business management, coordination and publicity for the group. Along with Calloway, the couple co-founded the ensemble when their son, Daniel Riera, was the flutist in the original ensemble. When Calloway, talks about his young students in the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble (LJYE), he doesn’t use the word “kids.” He prefers to call them “musicians.” “Even though part of the draw for the group is that they are youth, I don’t see them differently from the professional musicians I work with,” says Calloway, a “They are talented artists who just need to rack up more experience. I have no doubt they will some day be the ‘names’ you hear about on the Latin music scene.”
Queen Crescent is a psychedelic rock four-piece based from the SF/Bay Area. It cites its influences as Indonesian, Mexican and West African 70s psychedelic rock, Zamrock, Japanese 60s-70s pysch-prog, Italian and Greek 70s prog rock, proto-metal, Afro-Futurist Jazz, Motown…Los Dug Dugs, AKA, Ngozi Family, Witch (Zambia), Flower Travellin Band, Tina Turner, Black Sabbath, High Tide, Semiramis, Aphrodite’s Child, Sun Ra and too many others to count. Its members are Andrea Genevieve (guitar, vocals), Amy Martinez (drums, percussion), Enajite Loicy Pela (bass), Melissa Vu (flute, vocals).
CPA Youth Mojo. With the support of the James Irvine Foundation, the Chinese Culture Center, in collaboration with CPA’s Youth Mojo, has created a cultural participation initiative in Chinatown designed to increase the involvement of immigrants and low-income workers in the arts. For the Chinatown Music Festival resident master artists Yangqin Zhao and Melody Takata will direct a percussion ensemble of community participants. Zhao is one of the foremost performers on the Chinese hammered dulcimer otherwise known as the Yangqin and is the founder and artistic director of the renowned ensemble Melody of China. Melody Takata, taiko performer and choreographer, is the founder of Genryu Arts, a SF Japantown-based ensemble and school will be celebrating its 20th year anniversary next year.
Summer Lee: Into the Nearness of Distance. This project includes giant calligraphy performances in Portsmouth Square for the Festival as well as an installation exhibit in the CCF Gallery, explores the fragile relationship between absence and presence and the human relationship to the unknowable. Capturing a sense of longing for but inevitable failure to reconnect with ancestors who once lived in Chinatown, Lee’s work focuses thematically upon the universality of generational estrangement from a rooted but also distancing culture. With the goal to mediate the simultaneous longing and inability to connect to a historical sense of identity, her installation work alternates light and darkness, absence and presence, exploring the boundaries of where the tangible world becomes intangible. With a range of media, Lee’s recent work draws from her personal ancestry to expose the limitations of the “consciousness of objects” and seeks an image of what transcending those limits might be–to explore and transcend the complications of 21st century inter and counter-relationship; be they immigrant, vs. 3.5 generation, pure ethnic vs. bi/multi-cultural, and heteronormative vs. queer.
Film Screening: Shaolin Soccer
One showing at 2:00pm in the CCC Auditorium, 750 Kearny, 3rd Floor, inside the Hilton.
In this uproarious, yet touching comedy from director Stephen Chow, Sing is a skilled Shaolin kung fu devotee whose amazing ‘leg of steel’ catches the eye of a soccer coach. Together they assemble a squad of Sing’s former Shaolin brothers inspired by the big-money prize in a national soccer competition. Using an unlikely mix of martial arts and newfound soccer skills, it seems an unbeatable combination … until they must face the dreaded Team Evil in the ultimate battle for the title.
5th Annual Chinatown Music Festival Schedule
11:00am - Opening Ceremony
11:25am – 11:45am – Exploring Engagement Project
11:40am – 12:40pm – Jest Jammin’
12:40pm – 12:55pm – Summer Lee
1:00pm – 2:35pm – Jon Jang Ensemble
2:35pm – 2:50pm – Summer Lee
2:55pm – 3:55pm – Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble
4:15pm-5:00pm – Jest Jammin