SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The San Francisco Symphony is staging its annual Lunar New Year show on Feb. 5 starring legendary soprano Sumi Jo, guest conductor Earl Lee and a program that celebrates modern Asian composers.
"This concert is especially important for the Chinese and Asian community right now because of the AAPI hate issues that have arisen since COVID, and I think it's an incredible opportunity for the community to gather," said Amos Yang, assistant principal cellist of the San Francisco Symphony.
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Yang, who grew up in the public school system in San Francisco, noted the changes in the city post-pandemic and emphasized the need for a show of solidarity now more than ever.
"As an Asian American, it's really important to get the message out that we are not alone," he said. "In a city like San Francisco where there is such a large population of Asians, it's a community, and it's strong and it's vibrant, and we should be there for each other."
Earl Lee, assistant conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and current Ann Arbor Symphony music director, leads the orchestra in performing works by Asian composers including An-Lun Huang, Huang Ruo, Tyzen Hsiao, and Zhou Tian inspired by folk traditions and music.
Renowned soprano Sumi Jo joins Lee and the symphony in singing works by Du-Nam Cho, Huang Tzu, Hong-ryeol Lee, and Geung-Su Lim.
The celebration begins at 4 p.m. with pre-concert lobby festivities that are open to all ticketholders.
The preshow features an array of entertainment and activities, such as a numerologist, fortune teller, lion and dragon dancers, and students from the Au Co Vietnamese Cultural Center performing music on traditional instruments.
The concert features a wide range of orchestral works rooted in both Asian and Western musical traditions.
Conductor Earl Lee and the orchestra will open the program with An-Lun Huang's energetic and vibrant Saibei Dance from Saibei Suite No. 2. Soloist Sumi Jo joins the Symphony to sing, "Three Wishes of a Rose," by composer Huang Tzu.
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"This Lunar New Year concert, the symphony and I were talking about the possibility to promote Asian composers of our time who live in the United States," Lee said. "Of course there is some wonderful music by composers in Asia but we're here and I think it would be very meaningful for our community living in San Francisco and all over the United States."
In thinking about the program, Lee wanted to highlight Asian contribution and history to this country.
"A funny story... I was talking to Zhou Tien (a composer) and I said, 'I wish there was a piece about railroad workers in the United States,'" said Lee. "And he looked at me kind of dumbfounded and said, 'You know, I have one, right?' So I asked him to immediately send me a score and recording of it. I listened to it and I fell in love with it. I suggested it to the symphony and they liked it, so we're performing it."
Proceeds from the event support the symphony's artistic, education, and community programs. This concert is presented in partnership with the San Francisco Arts Commission. Click here to learn more.
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