Celebrating Art and Music Education with the Great Wall Youth Orchestra

jasmine flower
PSMEF Orchestra

U.S. Bank is proud to present the Great Wall Youth Orchestra in this year’s Chinese New Year Parade. What started as an unfulfilled dream of her former teacher, Sherlyn Chew created the Great Wall Youth Orchestra as a way “to instill in young people an appreciation of music from different cultures through instruction in traditional Chinese instruments, opera, and folk songs.” 

The Great Wall Youth Orchestra plays Chinese musical instruments and performs a variety of music. One of their specialties is Chinese opera, an art form that combines storytelling, acting, singing, dancing, and martial arts and dates as far back as the 12th century. Many of the students are recent immigrants or first-generation Americans, and the orchestra offers a special connection between their origins and heritage and their life in the United States.

Great Wall Youth Orchestra is one of the programs offered by the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation. Founded by Sherlyn Chew, the foundation’s purpose is to teach Chinese music to K-12 students in Oakland. The foundation’s other programs include the Purple Bamboo Orchestra and the Purple Bamboo Chorus.

jasmine flower

They have performed in many events throughout the greater Bay Area as well as throughout the country including Washington DC, Pacific Northwest, Hawaii, and Southern California. Some notable appearances include Good Morning America, Meghan Mullally Show, and Golden State Warriors.  

“We are so excited to be a part of the Chinese parade and hope it will be the first of many,” says Victor Siu, its current music director. “We think it is a wonderful pairing to have a Chinese orchestra in the Chinese New Year Parade, to promote Chinese culture as well as arts and music education.” 

Many challenges were faced during the pandemic. Performances and fundraising events were postponed or canceled.  However, they are a firm believer that during difficult times,  music can heal and bring joy to those that need it most.  During the pandemic, they produced virtual video performances for the American Cancer Society, front line and essential workers, and Kamala Harris’s inauguration video concert. 

Great Wall Youth Orchestra and Chorus of Laney College.DC photo2

As society looks ahead in the year of the Tiger, the orchestra looks to perform at many more events and add many more orchestra members to its roster.  

To learn more about the Great Wall Youth Orchestra please visit purplesilk.org