January 2009 | By Jane Leung Larson
While cellist Yo-Yo Ma was front stage for President Obama’s inauguration, many other members enjoyed the Asian American activities around Washington to celebrate the historic occasion.
quartet with Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman, clarinetist Anthony McGill,
and pianist Gabriela Montero played “Air and Simple Gifts,” a short
composition written by John Williams especially for the inauguration.
With sub-freezing temperatures, neither Perlman nor Ma could use their
ancient instruments, and although they played live without
amplification, what most people heard was taped the day before,
indoors. Ma and Perlman had both performed for Obama fundraising events
during the election campaign. A New York Times story, “The Frigid Fingers Were Live, but the Music Wasn’t” tells more. (Read This Article)
Click here to see the video of the performance.
Parties and receptions brought other Committee of 100 members to Washington for the occasion. The Asia Society opened activities with a reception on January 17 at the St. Regis Hotel, with the Committee as one of the community sponsor organizations. Asia Society Chairman Richard Holbrooke, now Obama’s special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, introduced the theme of the evening—a tribute to Asian American involvement in the 2008 Presidential election.
Among the political figures present were two incoming cabinet members, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki (C-100 Advisory Committee member), as well as Ambassador Christopher Hill, former Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta (C-100 Advisory Committee member), and Congressman Mike Honda. The fact that Obama spent four years as a child in Indonesia and lived among Asian cultures during the next eight years in Hawaii was duly noted. Special guests Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s half-sister (who is half Indonesian) and her husband Konrad Ng (Chinese Canadian) both spoke. During the campaign, the Ngs reached out to the Asian and Pacific Islander American community. Soetoro-Ng, a history teacher in Hawaii, spoke about how much she enjoyed volunteering for the Asia Society when she was a graduate student at New York University.
Committee members seen in the crowd were Robert Gee, Jeremy Wu, Janet Yang, Alice Young, Nancy Yuan, and C-100 Executive Director Alice Mong. Gee worked with Konrad Ng as part of the leadership of the Obama campaign's Asian American outreach and also was a policy advisor to the transition team for the Department of Energy. Gee and Young co-hosted an APA fundraiser for Obama in July as well. Click here to view a slide show of the Asia Society reception.
At the Pearl Ball:
|Maya Soetoro-Ng and Konrad Ng.||Former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta.|
|C-100 member Jeremy Wu far left, C-100 Executive Director Alice Mong, far right. ||Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki (center), C-100 member Michael Lin (right).|
|C-100 member Alice Young and her daughter Amanda Young Shortall.||C-100 member Helen Zia (center).|
Tickets for the premier Asian American inauguration event, the Pearl Gala, were sold out within a few days of going on sale soon after the election. Held the evening before inauguration, this formal ball at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel was attended not only by the Ngs, Senator Daniel K. Inouye and incoming Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki and Energy Secretary Chu, but by C-100 members Michael Lin, Frank Wu, Jeremy Wu, Alice Young, Helen Zia, and Executive Director Alice Mong. A link to Pearl Gala photos and other memorabilia is here: http://www.pearlgala.com/
Gary Locke, former Governor of Washington and co-chair of America’s Opportunity Fund, was a speaker at a January 19 briefing sponsored by APIAVote on “Elections, Transition, and Policy,” addressing how to keep the momentum going from the 2008 election for progressive Asia Pacific American causes.