Aimusic School is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational institute, providing music education, performances, and cultural exchange programs in San Francisco Bay Area. Starting from Gordon Lee’s studio in 1994, the School mainly promotes heritage Chinese music as an integral part of Asian-American culture by training young students to play instruments, thereby strengthening the multicultural community and enhancing the cultural diversity and richness of American society.
Education is Aimusic’s core program. The School has 4 level groups plus its subordinates Firebird Youth Chinese Orchestra (FYCO) and Youth Orchestra Silicon Valley (YOSV). It gives young students, mainly in the age 6-18 group, lessons at San Jose City College Music Department on weekends. Classes are taught by master musicians from top conservatories and orchestras in China and Taiwan. Instruments are in small classes with mostly 2-6 students. Music theory, ensemble, and orchestra classes are in large groups. For beginners, Aimusic provides a Music Education for Youth program with a waived tuition for a whole year. Since 2008, the School has also provided Aimusic Scholarship Awards. Everyone has an equal opportunity to win. While learning traditional folksongs, the students also play musical storytelling (Quyi), regional operas (Xiqu), Buddhist, Taoist, and court music. Through the joyful music training, they well develop their brain, intuition, listening and balance capabilities. Professional instructors make their performing techniques and teaching methods continually improved for American growing up youngsters.
Serving the community is a major responsibility of the School. Every year, 30-40 performances are provided to public schools, libraries, city halls, community centers, senior homes, cultural organizations, and high tech companies. Most of the performances are in a natural sound. Playing music without microphones reflects the true level of the performers and also meets the listening habits of many mainstream audience. In last decades, Aimusic brings unique concerts include The Winchester House in 2006, Operatic Music Concert in 2008, Shaolin Zen in 2009, Tang Dynasty Poetry, Music and Dance Concert in 2011, and Firebird Concert in 2013. Some of them sought an Asian heritage, while others try to express American spirits. In 2010, Gordon’s commissioned symphonic suite for the Erhu, Pipa, and Sheng Young Impressions of the Old City was premièred acoustically, an arguable first for Chinese solo instruments to play with the Western orchestra in a natural sound concert hall.
Aimusic’s cultural exchange activities bear an unusual significance. Invited by the Ministry of Culture, FYCO is the first Chinese orchestra from the West to visit China in 2004, giving a joint concert with Central, Sichuan, and Shanghai Conservatories of Music. In 2009, it held the 2nd Global Huqin Relay in North America for Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra. In 2013, it represented Santa Clara, visiting sister county and cities in Taiwan, and made association concerts with Tainan, Taipei, and Hsinchu city and youth Chinese orchestras. In 2016, Aimusic held Yunnan Heritage Tour, and visited Yunnan Arts University, Yi Autonomous Prefecture Folk Arts Theater, and Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Dance & Song Troupe.
In 2013 Lunar New Year, the School unprecedentedly performed the American National Anthem in an NBA game. With live broadcasting, millions around the world watched its live performance on TV in addition to 20,000 audience members in the arena. Aimusic has also collaborated with Western orchestras like Symphony Silicon Valley, Peninsula Symphony, San Jose Youth Symphony, Sacramento Youth Symphony. In 2016, International Aimusic Festival was launched. It brings multiple cultural exchange opportunities to student families, faculty members, regional performing arts groups, and traditional artists and musicians from Asian countries.
Through traditional education, community services, and cultural exchange activities, Aimusic gradually defines its artistic direction. The students’ team spirit, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving are highly developed. A strong leadership is built up along with their self-esteem and self-confidence. After leaving the School, many students created a music group in their respective colleges, spreading the Chinese heritage on a larger scope.
Because of its outstanding achievements, Arts Council Silicon Valley proclaimed the School as a “local treasure,” and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) praised us as “one of the very few ensembles in the United States dedicated to educating young people, their families and communities through traditional Chinese music, and is carrying out its mission with great success.” Aimusic is one of the very few Asian-American cultural groups awarded by the City, State, and Federal governments, and featured on newspapers, magazines, radio and television stations like ABC, NBC, KQED, KTSF, KICU, KTEH, CCTV (China Central Television), Hong Kong Phoenix, Taiwan United News, and Phoenix North America.See more