1. Arts Midwest – To support the educational workshops and concerts during each residency, Arts Midwest provides its partner communities with study guides prior to the tour on each featured country, culture, and musical ensemble. Teachers integrate these guides into their curricula, and historically, teachers have reported using the materials not only during the residencies but also throughout the school year in classes such as history and geography. These guides play a large role in informing members of our partner communities about aspects of Chinese heritage and culture before the ensembles even arrive. Together with CHF, Arts Midwest can address our mutual priority of promoting understanding of the richness and splendor of Chinese arts and culture. Formed in 2000 in the remote and mysterious Yunnan province of southwest China, the region thought to have inspired the Shangri-la of James Hilton’s classic novel Lost Horizon, Shanren, literally “mountain men,” have become one of China’s top indie folk bands. With members representing some of the least understood of China’s 56 ethnic groups, the four-piece aims to promote and preserve the colorful and diverse heritage of Yunnan and Guizhou’s many ethnic minority tribes through original compositions and re-workings of local folk melodies. Shanren fuse indigenous music with modern styles, while showcasing a variety of traditional instruments such as the Xianzi, Qinqin and Dabiya (four-stringed plucked instruments) and Xianggu and Sun drum (percussion). Gaining popularity in Beijing’s small but vibrant alternative folk scene, and especially the expat crowd, on the strength of their energetic live shows, the band were invited to appear in front of 5,000 people at Cathedral Square for the Barcelona Festival Asia 2010. In 2011, Shanren also presented showcases at MIDEM in Cannes and Liverpool Sound City, UK. Shanren were rated as No. 4 hottest international act at Canadian Music Week 2012 which they attended as part of a twelve date North American tour which attracted media attention including Huffington Post, Washington Post and National Geographic who described the band as “The closest thing to The Pogues that we have ever heard a Chinese band come”. Since then the band have been invited to perform all over the world – BaliSpiritFestival(Indonesia), Turtle Island Festival (Japan), Womadelaide (Australia) and Womad (New Zealand). Their 2013 album ???? (China), “Left Foot Dance of the Yi and other Chinese Folk Anthems” (international) was nominated for best rock album at the 2013 MIDI music awards and since release on January 27th by the World Music Network has received rave reviews.
2. CAAM – for presenting the professional performing arts troupe, Embrace China, in a concert in the Twin Cities area. The concert will consist of the best in Chinese folk songs, dances and other ethnic performances, including Sichuan opera face changing. Local arts organizations will also participate in the performances.
3. Leslie Lee – for completing an independent feature-length documentary on the Kim Loo Sisters. Alice, Maggie, Jenée and Bubbles Louie are the daughters of a Polish dressmaker mother and a Chinese waiter father — Louie Shear Gim, who was hired by Walter James and who worked for decades at Nankin Café, “the finest Chinese restaurant in Minneapolis.” The four sisters broke out of “the chop suey circuit” into mainstream American entertainment – a rarity at the time — appearing on the Broadway stage and the Hollywood screen with such notable performers as Frank Sinatra, The Three Stooges, Ann Miller, Jackie Gleason and Red Skelton. Despite very modest means and rampant racism, the sisters became the first Asian American act to star in Broadway musical revues and sing with the big bands. When one of the sisters, Jenée, left the act to marry the son of Li Zongren, the vice president of Nationalist China, her sisters carried on as a trio, singing with Ina Ray Hutton and her Orchestra and joining the USO to entertain American and Allied troops stationed in Europe during the Second World War. 4.
4. Minhua Chorus – for presenting its annual concert, Tea-Horse Trails, on November 8 at O’Shaunessy Auditorium. The concert will feature Asian music and dances that reflect ethnic cultures and regional arts along the Tea Horse Trail that was developed in the 6th century A.D. and lasted until the 1950s.