Arts & Culture

NEA grants help bring Chinese immigrant art, Mount Rainier symphony to Tacoma

Thanks in part to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tacoma Symphony will perform a symphonic poem about Mount Rainier in May 2017.
Thanks in part to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tacoma Symphony will perform a symphonic poem about Mount Rainier in May 2017. Staff file, 2002

A symphony about Mount Rainier and art about Puget Sound’s Chinese immigrant history are both coming to Tacoma in spring 2017, partly thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts. Tacoma Symphony and Tacoma Art Museum recently received NEA grants supporting new artistic work: a symphonic commission about Mount Rainier’s shrinking glaciers by composer Daniel Ott and a solo art show by Zhi Lin about the experiences of Chinese immigrants in the late 1800s.

Part of an overall $1 million granted by the NEA and National Park Service to engage people with national parks, the Tacoma Symphony’s $10,000 grant will aid in the creation of a symphonic poem by Ott, a Puyallup nativeand now a composer and teacher at the Juilliard School and Fordham University. The work for chorus and orchestra will combine with a piece of glass art made at the Museum of Glass and photography of the mountain, and is about the rapid melting of Mount Rainier’s glaciers.

It will pair with other naturalistic works by Debussy and Grieg in a concert on May 13, 2017.

“Our hope for the ‘Mountain and Sea’ concert is to engage the community in music, art and environmental awareness simultaneously,” said executive director Andy Buelow in a press release.

The art museum grant of $20,000 will support an exhibition by Lin exploring the massacres, racial “cleansing” and other hostile treatment of Chinese immigrants around the Puget Sound area in the late 1800s, including Tacoma.

“I intend for the work to raise social awareness of Chinese Americans’ contributions to this region,” said Lin in the release. “I hope (it) will encourage its audience to critically examine current events and issues relating to immigration with a historical perspective, and remind all of us about these tragic events so they may never happen again.”

Lin is an award-winning artist and professor of painting and drawing at the University of Washington. He has shown around the world, including the United States, United Kingdom and China. His exhibition will open in June 2017.

For more information on NEA grants, visit arts.gov.

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568, @rose_ponnekanti

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