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Toisan Railway

Title: Toisan Railway

Medium: Music

Artists Involved: Jim Norton, soprano saxophone; Francis Wong, tenor saxophone; John Worley, trumpet and flugelhorn; Cathleen Torres, French horn; Jon Jang, piano; Gary Brown, double bass; Deszon Claiborne, multiple percussion; Mabel Teng, narrator in Cantonese and English

Year Work Created: 2014

Venue: San Francisco Chinatown Music Festival in August 2014

Total Length of Work: 16:20

Length of Sample: 1:23

Short Description of Work: Toisan Railway 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 the United States and supported the making of the Sunning (Toisan) Railway in China through their labor and financial support.

The first work sample is one of my most recent works inspired by the model of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait (1942) for Narrator and Orchestra. Copland composed the work specifically to feature celebrity actors or politicians in the role of the narrator in an effort to reach a broader audience. In this performance of my work, Toisan Railway, Mabel Teng, who was the first Chinese American woman to serve on the Board of Supervisors and Director of the Chinese Culture Center, served as the role of the narrator. Teng  spoke in both English and Cantonese language to the mixed audience of English and Chinese speakers.  However, work sample 3, an older work, represents an example of my work with a theater artist/performance poet (Genny Lim) that is relevant and similar to the role of the theatre arts writer and performer Dr. Amanda Kemp.

The first work sample is relevant because:  1. it is an example that supports the 3rd paragraph in my Project Description: “This new work will represent both a continuation of my present work, as well as a return to my past work as composer-pianist/political activist during the 1980s. During the past five years, I have composed a body of work for large music ensemble and narrator that have memorialized significant historic events.” 2. It is an example that shows a large music ensemble of resident musicians who could continue to be core members of the music ensemble in this proposal.


Eleanor Bumpurs

Title of Work: Eleanor Bumpurs

 Medium: Music

Artists Involved: David Murray, tenor saxophone; James Newton, flute; Chen Jiebing, erhu (Chinese two string violin); Jon Jang, piano; Santi Debriano, double bass; Billy Hart, multiple percussion.

Year Work Created: 1993

Venue: Eastside Sound, New York in 1995. World Premiere performance by Jon Jang and African-Chinese Sextet at Cal Performances-UC Berkeley at Zellerbach Auditorium in 1993.

Total Length of Work: 5:22

Length of Sample: 1:23

Short Description of Work:  Eleanor Bumpurs is the title of a music composition of one of the four movements in Color of Reality, a music work commissioned by Cal Performances –UC Berkeley in 1992. The work Eleanor Bumpurs draws its inspired after I attended a Justice for Eleanor Bumpurs event in New York which was originally planned to be held at a school but the City of New York blocked the event at the last minute. The Justice for Eleanor Bumpurs community event was relocated to a black church thanks to the heartfelt generous gesture of a black minister. The music sketches that I wrote after the event was based on the collective “feeling” of the community coming together in support of Eleanor Bumpurs and her family and against legal lynching practice by the police.

Eleanor Bumpurs was a 66 year old black grandmother who was shot and killed by the Bronx police for not paying her rent on time. This sample is relevant because it is connected to the racial violent acts upon black women by both individual white supremacists and the police that’s part of this new work, as in the case of the six black women victims at the black church in Charleston, South Carolina and Sandra Bland, who was arrested for a minor traffic violation and “legally lynched” by the police in her jail cell in Texas. 


Island: The Immigrant Suite No. 1


Title of Work: Island: The Immigrant Suite No. 1

 Medium: Music

 Artists Involved: Genny Lim, performance poet; Jim Norton, soprano saxophone, alto flute, English horn; Francis Wong, tenor saxophone, flute; Min Xiao Fen, pipa (Chinese lute); Wang Hong, zhonghu (Chinese two string viola), erhu (Chinese two string violin), guanzi (Chinese kazoo), Elliot Humberto Kavee, multiple percussion, cello; Royal Hartigan, multiple percussion

Year Work Created: 1995

Venue: Spark Recording Studio. World Premiere presented by Koncepts Cultural Gallery at the Cowell Theatre in San Francisco, 1995

Total Length of Work: 27:29

Length of Sample: 1:00


Last Updated (Wednesday, 07 October 2015 10:26)