Sweet sounds at Chinatown Music festival

Renowned pianist Jon Jang’s premiere of his commissioned work “Central Pacific, Central Subway” — celebrating contributions by Chinese workers who built the first Transcontinental Railroad — is among the highlights of this weekend’s third annual Chinatown Music Festival.

“Just as historical political leaders Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Sun Yat-sen shared a vision of the railroad as an important way to unify their respective countries, the Central Subway will help unify San Francisco and enhance Chinatown’s role as a cultural destination for all,” says Yang, commenting on the piece, which was created with support from the Chinese Culture Center and the San Francisco Arts Commission Central Subway Art Project.

Portsmouth Square, in the heart of San Francisco’s Chinatown, is the venue for Saturday’s free festival, which also offers lion dance, dragon dance, martial arts, Chinese healing arts, painting and calligraphy in addition to music of all kinds.

This year’s theme is “Chinatown, Our Home.”

Francis Wong, creative director of Asian Improv aRts, a participating organization, describes the festival as “a deeply satisfying opportunity to add my sound to the community I’ve been a part of since I was a kid. I am 55 now, and my Chinese heritage is core to my expressions as a jazz artist.”

The performance lineup also features Latin jazz by the John Calloway Quintet, Jest Jammin’ R&B, traditional Chinese cultural arts from the Yellow River Drummers, Kei Lun Martial Arts and many more.

Other activities include tea tasting, crafts, games, cultural demonstrations, and the last chance to view the exhibition of Adrian Wong’s work, “Orange Peel, Harbor Seal, Hyperreal” in the Chinese Culture Center’s Gallery.

The Chinese Culture Center, a partner of the America’s Cup and this year’s festival, will honor the races with the corny but spot-on theme, “America’s Cup of Tea.”

“The festival is a celebration of The City’s diversity,” says Mabel Tang, executive director of the Chinese Culture Center. “It will help contribute to the cultural and economic vitality of Chinatown, and continue to bring together visitors and residents.”

Chinatown Community Development Center, Chinese Progressive Association and the API Cultural Center are additional participating organizations.

IF YOU GO

Chinatown Music Festival

Where: Portsmouth Square, Kearny and Washington streets, S.F

When:
11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 986-1822, www.c-c-c.org

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