Chinese New Year: Meet The Artists
Join us for Pacific Symphony's annual festivities honoring the Chinese New Year! Celebrating the Year of the Dog, this performance is sure to sell out once again as audiences from across our communities come together to feast on a colorful presentation of Eastern and Western music and dance.
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Carl St.Clair, conductor
To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here.
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CHEER PAN, Emcee
Born in Beijing, China, Cheer Pan started her performing career at the early age of 3 as the announcer for the Lantian Children’s Performance Group. A year later, she began her formal lessons in dance, and soon thereafter she began to display her dancing talents across the stage. Growing up, Pan had numerous experiences performing in national theaters for high profile audiences. At age 8, she auditioned for, and became a member of, a nationally televised performing youth group, the Yinghe Youth Performing Group, where she had the opportunity to perform in front of a nationwide audience.
After moving to the United States, she continued to express her love and passion for the performing arts through various on-stage dance performances. She formed a dance company “Dance with Cheer” that performed traditional Chinese folk dances. She also began teaching young children about both the art form of dance and the history of Chinese folk dance. Her students and choreography have received community recognition and national awards.
TAN YE, Emcee
Tan Ye is a renowned host of Tianjin Television. She was named one of the “Ten Best” program hosts in China and instructor of broadcasting. She graduated from China Mass Communications University in 1989, and has since earned numerous awards with the television programs that she has hosted. She has also taught as a guest lecturer in several colleges in Tianjin. Tan is now the founder of “Golden Sunshine Chinese School,” a new endeavor in her life to carry forward the richness and beauty of Chinese language and culture.
FEI-FEI DONG, Piano
Praised for her “bountiful gifts and passionate immersion into the music she touches” (The Plain Dealer), Chinese pianist Fei-Fei Dong is a winner of the Concert Artists Guild Competition and a top finalist at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition. She continues to build a reputation for her poetic interpretations, charming audiences with her “passion, piquancy and tenderness” and “winning stage presence” (Dallas Morning News).
Career concerto highlights in the US include the Fort Worth Symphony, Kansas City Symphony, Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Corpus Christi Symphony, Austin Symphony, Youngstown Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Denver Philharmonic and the Juilliard Orchestra, and in China with the Shanxi and Shenzhen Symphony Orchestras. She has worked with such prominent conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Michael Stern, Jeffrey Kahane, Randall Craig Fleisher and John Giordano.
Maisui, soprano, national first-class actress, gold award winner of the 10th National Youth Singer TV Grand Prix, graduated from People’s Academy of the Arts. She studied piano for 10 years, four years of composition, with a solid music foundation. Throughout her illustrious professional career, Maisui has performed more than a thousand times, thrilling audiences around the world with her skill, talent and passion. She has been featured in local and national-level civil and military departmental programs, galas of CCTV and local TV stations, including the Tian’an Square Gala Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of PRC’s foundation, 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Shanghai Expo 2010 Theme Song singing, 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake Remembrance performance, World Reading Day Theme Song singing, CCTV Spring Festival Gala, and New Year’s Gala.
Maisui has also performed songs on TV and at studio stations, concerts, variety shows and holiday celebrations. Her songs have been featured in vocal music textbooks, song collections and music magazines. Her most popular songs include “Pulse,” “Concubine” and “Today’s You.” Moreover, her singing skills have been studied and cited by many academic papers (undergraduate and graduate level).
She has recorded six albums and, in 2011, launched an individual concert, Charming Sound of Opera-Concert of Maisui Beijing 2011 at Beijing Worker’s Stadium. This concert set several records and won widespread praise from both the music industry and audiences alike.
GUANG YANG, Mezzo-Soprano
Guang Yang’s recent engagements included returns to the Deutsche Opera, Berlin for Amneris in Aida, to the Canadian Opera Company, where Yang appeared in Don Carlos, Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung. She made debuts with the Florida Grand Opera as Amneris in Aida, a role she reprised in Houston and Omaha, followed by her Paris debut in concerts of the Verdi Requiem with Christoph Eschenbach and the Orchestre de Paris. Yang made her Dallas Opera debut as Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, a role she sang the previous season in Chicago to tremendous acclaim. In concert, Yang made her Chicago Symphony debut as the alto solo in Tippett’s A Child of Our Time and performed in recital at the Chicago Cultural Center. She also appeared in concert with Deborah Voigt and Ben Heppner in Ottawa and in Joliette singing Brangäne in the Act II Love Duet from Tristan und Isolde.
MIN XIAO-FEN, Pipa
Hailed by the Village Voice as an artist who “has taken her ancient Chinese string instrument into the future,” Min is a master of the pipa, a four-stringed, pear-shaped lute with a 2,000-year history. Known for her virtuosity and fluid style, Min has expanded her instrument’s possibilities as an element for contemporary composition, tacking fluidly between the extended techniques of free improvisation, jazz, full-on noise and contemporary classical vocabulary. More recently, she has begun to present her own wide-ranging explorations. Min has taught many master classes and has been an artist-in-residence at schools and universities across the United States and Europe, including the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, The New School, Columbia University, Haystack Mountain School of Arts & Crafts, James Madison University, Wellesley College, University of California at San Diego, Brooklyn Friends School, Amsterdam Conservatory and University of Gothenburg.
YAYA ZHANG, Choreographer
Yaya Zhang is an award-winning artist with 20 years of stage performance, choreography and dance instruction experience. She graduated from the Department of Folk Dance at the Secondary School of Beijing Dance Academy in 1999 and received a B.A. in choreography from Beijing Dance Academy in 1999 and received a B.A. in choreography from Beijing Dance Academy in 2003. During her decade long study at the Beijing Dance Academy, she mastered many different Chinese ethnic folk dance traditions as well as sword, fan, ribbon and sleeve techniques. At the same time, she has extensive experiences in the choreography of the above styles and techniques. In 2004 and 2005, she carried the role of “Rumpleteazer” in the musical production of Cats by Shiki Theatre Company in Japan. Before moving to America in 2007, she worked in many productions in China including musicals.
Since moving to Los Angeles area, she has been teaching at several well-known dance companies. Now she is the artistic director ofYAYA Dance Academy.
BEI BEI HE, Guzheng
Bei Bei He is one of world’s premiere guzheng (Chinese Zither) musicians. Born in Chengdu, China, she started to play the classical guzheng instrument at the young age of 7. Passionate about music and sure that her calling was to become a professional musician, she majored in guzheng at the Central University of Nationalities in Beijing. She also went on to study at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts under several guzheng masters such as Li-Jing Sha, Mu-Lan Hai, Chun-Jiang Teng, and Ling- Zi Xu. After moving to Los Angeles, California, she further studied music recording at Azusa Pacific University, Citrus College and jazz performance at Fullerton College. Her humble beginnings as an American musician began in Old Town Pasadena where she grew a fan base through street performances, YouTube videos, and social media.
EMMA LEE, Electric Cello
Cellist Emma Lee made her solo debut playing at the famed Carnegie Hall’s, Weill Recital Hall at the age of 13. At 15, Lee was also a winning soloist performing Dvorák’s Cello Concerto in B minor at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, accompanied by the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. Emma has just begun her studies as a student of Ronald Leonard at the Colburn School’s Conservatory, class of 2021. Previously,Lee has studied with Stanley Sharp for cello and David Dunford for piano. Lee has attended various summer festivals including her recent fellowship to the Music Academy of the West, Summer 2017 and the Montecito Music Festival, Summer 2016. In June of 2017, she graduated summa cum laude from Crean Lutheran High School, where she served as principal cellist for four years. Lee is a huge supporter of music and arts in the schools and has held the principal cellist position of her school’s orchestra from the 6th grade through to her senior year of high school.
CHELSEA CHAVES, Soprano
Soprano Chelsea Chaves enjoyed a busy 2016-17 season. Roles performed include Pamina and Erste Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Première Prêtresse (Iphigénie en Tauride), Hanna Glawari (Die Lustige Witwe) and Lay Sister (Suor Angelica). She has also covered the roles of Violetta (La Traviata) and Gretel (Hansel and Gretel) for Pacific Symphony. A California native,Ms. Chaves received a master of music degree in vocal arts/opera from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance from Chapman University. She currently resides in the Los Angeles area.
NICK PRESTON, Tenor
Praised by The Orange County Register as being “resonant and warm,” and by the classical music site Bachtrack as “a ringing stentorian tenor”, Hawaii native Preston is in demand as a soloist in Southern California and beyond, having performed throughout California, and touring as a soloist in France, Italy, and Spain. He has been a member of Pacific Chorale since 2002, and has frequently appeared as a soloist with the chorale as well as with Pacific Symphony. Nicholas currently resides in Brea with his wife Dr. Kathleen Preston and their daughter Zelda.
ROBERT ISTAD, Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale
Robert Istad is the Artistic Director of Pacific Chorale and director of choral studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he conducts the University Singers and Concert Choir,in addition to teaching courses in conducting, advanced interpretation and literature. He has prepared choruses for Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Carl St.Clair and Pacific Symphony, Sir Andrew Davis and the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Nicholas McGegan and the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, as well as conductors Bramwell Tovey, Eric Whitacre, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, John Alexander, William Dehning, David Lockington and Mark Mandarano.
Istad received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music from Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., his Master of Music degree in choral conducting from California State University, Fullerton, and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral music at the University of Southern California.
To learn more about the Pacific Chorale, please click here.
AMERICA FEEL YOUNG CHORUS
America Feel Young Chorus (AFYC) is a nonprofit organization formed by a group of friends who love music in Southern California in January 2015. Conducted by Sam Wei-Chih Sun, the group is dedicated to expanding the Chinese and Western choral music experience through performances and community. Their mission is to become the leader in amateur chorus in the U.S. by building a passionate team with artistic excellence and reputable image.
AFYC has performed on various occasions including Orange County Chinese New Year celebrations, the Yellow River Cantata in Walt Disney Hall as part of the Memorial of World War II Victory Concert, in addition to local concerts led by renowned conductors from China, including Jiao Miao and Li Xi Lin. AFYC has been growing rapidly and evolving into a well-known chorus in the Chinese American community in Southern California.
With the generous support from Mr. Charles Zhang (founder of Pick Up Stix and Zion Enterprise, Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst & Young, and Winner of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor), the chairman of the Board of Directors, AFYC is committed to becoming the best amateur chorus in the U.S. by nurturing excellence in its members, while offering the finest repertoire and choral artistry.
SAM WEI-CHIH SUN, Director of America Feel Young Chorus
Sam Wei-Chih Sun is a pianist, accompanist and music educator. His interest in music was encouraged by his mother at age 6 when he started playing the piano. He attended the Taipei Municipal Teachers College and majored in piano performance and minored in cello and vocal performance. After graduation, Sun became an elementary school music teacher in Taipei and held many musical activities to inspire students’ interests in music.
In 2005, Sun received a master’s degree in conducting from Azusa Pacific University. In 2006, he received the Chinese Overseas Outstanding Youth Award. In 2013, he received The Excellent Educator Award by The Taiwanese Teachers College Association. Sun is an adjunct professor of piano at Azusa Pacific University, Citrus Community College and Calvin Chao Theological Seminary. He is the music director at Good Shepherd Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in Monterey Park. He also conducts the Southern California Taiwanese Hakka Chorus, the Arcadia Chinese Chorus and the Irvine Chinese Chorus. Throughout the year, Sun conducts professional concerts and collaborates with professional soloists.