Black History Month is an annual celebration of achievements by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.
Every February, Japanese American communities commemorate Day of Remembrance (DOR) to mark the anniversary of the internment of over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Signed by President Roosevelt on February 19, 1942, Executive Order 9066 (EO9066) was executed by General DeWitt, Commander of the Presidio, SF seventy-five years ago and resulted in the forced removal and incarceration of innocent American citizens.
In 1998, the Asian American Orchestra was founded as a component of a federally funded national education program about the Japanese American internment experience. In celebration of our 20th anniversary, the Asian American Orchestra will perform GO FOR BROKE! A Tribute to Nisei Veterans featuring spoken word by Janice Mirikitani, and present Anthony Brown’s 1996 Rockefeller Foundation commissioned composition, E.O. 9066, commemorating the 50th anniversary of closing of the camps. Commissioned by the Zellerbach Foundation, the November 2017 premiere of GO FOR BROKE! on the Presidio and subsequent performance on Veterans Day there were presented to capacity audiences; the latter performance was attended by the Consul General of Japan who claimed, “The people in Japan need to hear this work.”
In celebration of Black History Month, the Asian American Orchestra and Voices Of A Dream ensemble (VOAD) will present a special preview of excerpts from DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE Requiem for a King. Commissioned by the Wattis Foundation and Inter Music SF (Friends of Chamber Music) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., DOWN BY THE RIVERSIDE is an inclusionary instrumental and vocal multi-movement jazz work scored for the Asian American Orchestra comprised of contemporary Western and traditional Asian instruments, and vocals. The premiere performance at the SF International Arts Festival on May 26th will feature recitation by Dr. Angela Davis, a collaboration of artists and activists united in the defense of civil liberties and justice.
The Asian American Orchestra is also excited to announce the release of their new CD, GO FOR BROKE! to coincide with this event, which includes an exhibition and reception commemorating two decades of achievements by the Grammy-nominated Asian American Orchestra.