By Greg Hugh -
The Chinese Heritage Foundation (CHF) held their 10th annual open house this past October. While many Minnesotans were soaking in an exceptionally spectacular fall day pursuing other interests, loyal supporters of CHF filled the Party Room at the Gramercy in Richfield to celebrate this memorable milestone.
As is the custom at most CHF social events, first on the agenda was for the gathering to enjoy the camaraderie along with some appropriate snacks, which is the domain of CHF board member, Yin Simpson. In addition to planning and arranging the food, Simpson also coordinated the decorations so as to set a festive mood for the gathering.
Then the formal part of the program began. CHF board member Margaret Wong welcomed the gathering and provided a brief history and background on the founding of the foundation (by Ming Tchou in 2004). Much of this background was reported in the October issue of China Insight. Wong was followed by another board member, Ken Lau, who commented on “A Passage to China,” that has become a signature event for CHF Friends, and introduced representatives of several organizations that have been part of the event since its inception in 2008: Joan Brzezinski, director of the China Center at the University at Minnesota; Sophia Liu from Minhua Chorus and Melody Zhou from CIAC Travel. Each spoke of their Passage participation over the years.
Next on the program was Lauren Moy, who performed a piece on the guzheng. She has performed at Passage over the years either as a solo performer or with other organizations such as CAAM.
After their comments, Lau then introduced Pearl Bergad, CHF executive director, who spoke about the most ambitious project yet to be undertaken by CHF Friends and in collaboration with the San Francisco Opera Company - the commissioning of an English-language opera based on the classic Chinese novel, the “Dream of the Red Chamber.” Music will be by world-renowned Chinese-American composer Bright Sheng, who also will be a co-librettist with Tony Award-winning Chinese-American playwright David Henry Hwang. Bergad also announced that Stan Lai (celebrated Taiwan-based Chinese language playwright and director) has joined the creative team as stage director. Lai was recognized by the BBC as “The best Chinese language playwright and director in the world, and pretty prolific too." This San Francisco Opera production is scheduled to have its world premiere in the fall of 2016.
While the seeds for Dream were planted back in 2011, it wasn’t until the San Francisco Opera Company agreed to undertake the opera in 2013 when Ming Tchou donated $100,000 to get the project rolling, which resulted in Sheng and Hwang getting on board. Recently, CHFF has also received a $50,000 pledge from Ben and Helen Liu, $25,000 in donation and $25,000 in the form of a matching challenge grant. CHFF has now commenced its fundraising efforts and invites the community to participate in the commissioning of the opera by making a donation to help CHF meet its mission objective in preserving and promoting Chinese heritage, culture and history while encouraging innovation in the arts. In carrying out this mission, CHF hopes to improve mutual understanding between the Chinese community and the world community at large.
Marcus Young, St. Paul Artist-In-Residence, was then introduced. He provided additional background information on the Dream story, followed by Karen Himle who discussed the fundraising goals.
The program came to a close with the CHF Board making themselves available for questions regarding the “Dream of the Red Chamber” opera.
For more information about the Chinese Heritage Foundation and how to get involved or make donations, visit www.chineseheritagefoundation.org.