World premiere: ‘or / and’ | Asian Society




Friday, April 29, 2022
7:30 p.m. Show
Round table and reception to follow

Saturday April 30, 2022
7:30 p.m. Show
Round table to follow

or and is a multimedia chamber opera poem, following the journey of a composer who finds her voice only when she accepts the apparent contradictions of her immigrant identity. By choosing “and” over “or” that divides, this work harnesses the inclusive power of ET to help mend our divided world.

When we meet the composer, she struggles to write a piece of music inspired by two events halfway around the world: a sacred ceremony by the indigenous Paiwan people of Taiwan and the Women’s March in Houston. She was present to both, and she learned different lessons about herself that she cannot yet reconcile. This search for the right notes goes hand in hand with a search for the right words. Her only daughter is going to college, and there is a pivotal phrase the mother songwriter wants to complete: “Before you go, I want you to know…” Musical and maternal instincts flow, once the composer begins. to understand that it belongs to a continuum, supported by human connections rather than divisions.

Asia Society Texas is delighted to present the world premiere of this work. A round table will follow the performances on both evenings. A reception will follow the opening performance and discussion on April 29.

About the artists

Immigrated to the United States in her early twenties, Taiwanese-American composer Shi-hui Chen is fascinated by stories at the intersection of identity, culture and tradition. In her works, she seeks to cross the boundaries between music and society, between the music of distinct cultures, and between music and other art forms. Chen is the founder / director of 21C: Classical, Contemporary, and Cross-Cultural Asian Music, a performing arts festival that promotes international exchange between Asia and the United States through an annual series of lectures and performances. .

Shih-Hui Chen has worked with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, the Utah Symphony, and the National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra. Recognition for his work has come from institutions such as the American Academy in Rome, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fulbright Scholar Program, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She is currently a faculty member at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

Monique Truong (Librettist) is the Vietnamese-born American author of the award-winning novels The book of salt (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), Bitter in the mouth (Random House, 2010), and The sweetest fruits(Viking, 2019). In addition to his collaborations with Shih-Hui Chen, Truong has written lyrics for composers Joan La Barbara and Francisco Nuñez.

Doug fitch (Director / Scenic Design) is a polymath artist working in the fields of architecture, opera, puppetry, sustenance and furniture design. He has created productions for the NY Philharmonic, Tanglewood, the Kitchen, MoMA, Metropolitan Museum, Los Angeles and Santa Fe Opera Houses, the Salzburg State Theater and the Salzburg Marionette Theater, designed homes for Joshua Bell and Alan Gilbert, Orphicorps culinary art collective co-founder, and wrote the books:Organs of emotion ,With skin and hairandOrphic fodder.

A soprano “of fearlessness and consummate art” (Opera News), Ah young Honghas performed a wide repertoire, ranging from music by Monteverdi and Bach to Michael Hersch and Georg Friedrich Haas. She has performed internationally with various ensembles including the Phoenix Basel Ensemble, violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Camerata Bern and members of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra.

The performing arts and cultural programs at Asia Society Texas are presented by Syamal and Susmita Poddar. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, of the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, the Houston Endowment and the Brown Foundation Inc. Generous funding is also provided by the AARP, the Anchorage Foundation of Texas, the Clayton Fund, and the Miller Theater Advisory Board. Additional support provided by the Wortham Foundation, the Texas Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, United Airlines, and through contributions from the Friends of Asia Society, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to providing exceptional programming and exhibits at Asia Society Center in Texas.

Performing arts and cultural presenting sponsors

Syamal and Susmita Poddar

Official airline sponsor

Sponsors of the Performing Arts and Cultural Program

About Asia Society Texas

Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating Asia’s vibrant diversity, inspiring empathy and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community – trusting in the power of art, dialogue and ideas. to fight prejudices and build a more inclusive society.



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