September 15, 2011
Kids Around the Bay
What better week than National Arts Education Week to unveil a new name for San Francisco’s only public arts high school? On September 14 the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts gathered press, friends, the Asawa family and civic and arts leaders together for a very special occasion.
The school not only celebrates its 30th anniversary, but also takes the name of itss founder, the acclaimed artist Ruth Asawa.
Around 40 young singers from the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus are living the dream of many vocalists — singing in the War Memorial Opera House in San Francisco Opera’s current production of Puccini’s Turandot. The kids lend their beautiful voices in an off-stage chorus and get into the dramatic action as well. Eleven-year-old AJ Bonino and 12 of his fellow Concert Choir members play monks, processing through the crowd with lanterns, their heads shining bald with costume and make-up expertise. “At first I was nervous because I realize how special it is to be on stage at the Opera House,” said Bonino. “To see the audience all dressed up on opening night made it real for me, and now I’m just excited and comfortable. I’m looking forward to the next performance.” Their director Ian Robertson, who is also director of San Francisco Opera Chorus, regularly prepares students to participate in such high caliber professional productions with the Opera Company, alongside international stars.
AJ Bonino, who attends Our Lady of Loretto School in Novato, has two years of study with the Boys Chorus under his belt, which helped him prepare to sing in Italian as the role demands. The chorus is anticipating their September 25 simulcast of Turandot into the Ballpark, where their friends can watch them for free. They are also preparing to sing the National Anthem at a coming S.F. Giant’s game. Join them at AT&T Park, or in the Opera House, through Oct. 4.
The Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco and partners initiated the first ever, free, outdoor music festival in Chinatown last year, with great success. This year the Chinatown Music Festival returns Sept. 25 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., with a diverse musical lineup and family activities such as face-painting, traditional crafting, and raffles. Performers include Jest Jammin’, Genryu Arts, Sherlin Chan & The Star Valley Children’s Choir, Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco led by John Calloway, Charlie Chin, San Francisco Guzheng Society, and the world-premiere of Portrait of Sun Yat-sen by Jon Jang and Unbound Chinatown.
While the kids will get to groove to music by their peers in the youth ensembles presented, parents will appreciate the accomplishments of composer Jon Jang — our local proponent of Chinese American history in San Francisco, through the lens of his jazz and world-influenced music. Jang has received commissions from Kronos Quartet, Oakland East Bay Symphony, and others; has recorded with jazz greats Max Roach and James Newton; and he’s been a California Arts Council Artist in Residence, among numerous honors and awards. Portrait of Sun Yat-sen was composed specifically for this occasion to honor the Oct. 10 Centennial of the Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Republic’s first provisional president, Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Jang, on piano, is joined by pipa (Chinese lute), vocal soloist Min Xiao Fen, and a seven-member jazz ensemble including festival producer, saxophonist Francis Wong. The performance begins at 2:35 p.m. — check here for the entire schedule.
Lisa Petrie is a writer and specialist in marketing and public relations for arts and education organizations. She earned a DMA in flute performance from SUNY, Stony Brook, and is the mother of two musical kids. Lisa was the Content Manager for the Kids and Families section of San Francisco Classical Voice during 2011.