Holiday Greetings from our Founder - Dr. Anthony Brown
WELCOME! Family, Friends and Colleagues,
This year-end issue of Fifth Stream Music’s e-newsletter "CURRENTS" highlights the artistic and educational activities of Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra’s (AAO) 20th anniversary year. The AAO’s journey started in 1998 when a federally funded, national multimedia education project addressing the WWII Japanese American internment experience was created with the Asian American Jazz Orchestra as a touring cultural component. Twenty years later, the AAO has toured from coast-to-coast, recorded seven critically acclaimed CDs, and collaborated with internationally celebrated artists to present music that carries a message of social justice.
Our 20th year celebration began in February at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center, who, in 1999, presented the AAO’s premiere of its GRAMMY nominated Far East Suite as part of Duke Ellington’s centennial. The OACC hosted an exhibition of artifacts and photographs retrospective of the AAO’s 20 years of music making. To coincide with Black History Month and Day of Remembrance, the AAO performed music commemorating the internment experience and provided a sneak preview excerpt of DOWN BY THE RVERSIDE Requiem for King commemorating the 50th anniversary of MLK’s assassination. The evening also celebrated the AAO’s new CD release, GO FOR BROKE! A Salute to Nisei Veterans with spoken word by Janice Mirikitani. The even culminated in a sake tasting reception provided by Kenshin Sake.
On March 19th, we lost our esteemed colleague, mentor, composer and professor emeritus of music, Dr. Olly Wilson. He served as a valued member of Fifth Stream Music’s Board of Directors until his passing and is deeply missed by all whose lives he touched.
Our educational activities began in April when Mark Izu, Masaru Koga and I were invited to the University of Illinois to perform as the Asian American Jazz Trio, and I served a weeklong residency in the Departments of Music and Dance. It was truly inspiring to interact with the students and faculty, and to be part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the University’s Asian American Studies Program.
We continued our artists-in-residency at SF’s Rosa Parks Elementary School where we offered a two-week program teaching 3rd graders about Jazz and the rich cultural history of their adjacent Fillmore/Japantown neighborhoods, culminating in the “Jazz Walk Tour” of nearby historic sites. The residency is conducted annually in April to coincide with the Smithsonian Institution’s Jazz Appreciation Month international initiative.
On May 26th, the AAO and its vocal ensemble, Voices Of A Dream (VOAD), headlined the 2018 SF International Arts Festival and presented the world premiere performance of DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE Requiem for King featuring spoken word by Dr. Angela Davis. Oh what a transcendent night!
Other highlights of our 20th anniversary year appear in features below and on our website, but I invite all of you to join us in toasting this banner year on Saturday, December 8th, 530-730pm at Takara Sake in Berkeley. A quartet contingency of the AAO will perform in the intimate setting of the Sake Tasting Room. http://bit.ly/AAO_TakaraSake
In closing, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for supporting our music and mission of ‘advancing the art form of jazz through innovative intercultural music and transformative educational experiences that reflect and promote the rich diversity of our nation. ‘
With all best wishes for a peaceful holiday season,
Anthony Brown, Ph.D.