Orchestras and musicians reacted to the recent rise in anti-Asian American and anti-Pacific Islander violence, including the March 16 murders at Asian-run businesses in Atlanta. The Seattle Symphony dedicated its annual “Celebrate Asia” concert on March 18 to victims of violence and hate crimes. Seattle Symphony President and CEO Krishna Thiagarajan said, “The recent rise in xenophobic attacks on the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is unacceptable and heartbreaking, particularly during a year that has already been so challenging. Music can offer healing where words fail, and we dedicate this concert to you. To all those affected by this senseless violence—you are not alone, we stand with you. We mourn the losses of Daoyou Feng, Pak Ho, Paul Andre Michels, Vicha Ratanapakdee, Xiaojie Yan, Delaina Ashley Yuan, and countless others.” Keitaro Harada led the virtual program at Benaroya Hall in contemporary works by Dai Fujikura, Takashi Yoshimatsu, and Akira Senju as well as Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations, featuring cellist Zlatomir Fung.
On April 2, Ken-David Masur, music director of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Asian Americans can no longer endure discrimination. He recalled that he had been bullied while growing up, as the son of German conductor Kurt Masur and Japanese soprano Tomoko Sakurai, and said, “The time of putting your head down and being in denial of who you are and what you’re being discriminated or bullied for should be over.”
On April 9, New York Youth Symphony Concertmaster Myra Cui led a live chamber music concert at New Jersey’s Bergen Town Center Mall to benefit the families of hate crimes targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. The concert featured musicians from the NYYS Chamber Music program in works by Bach, Mozart, and NYYS alumna Jessie Montgomery. Cui commented, “I felt it was important for musicians to gather and perform within our local communities to raise awareness against Asian hate crimes.”