Jon Jang has broken barriers and genres as a composer, pianist and artistic director of ensembles in developing original works noted for their compelling mix of different influences and sounds. As a composer, Mr. Jang has received commissions from the NEA, Rockefeller Foundation, Cal Performances, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Festival 2000 and the Kronos Quartet. His major works include: Island: the Immigrant Suite, No. 1 (1995); the score for Deborah Rogin's dramatic adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior (1994); The Color of Reality (1993), performed at UC Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium; Tianenmen! (1992), performed at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco; and Reparations Now! Concerto for Jazz Ensemble and Taiko (1988). Mr. Jang has recently composed the score for filmmaker Renée Tajima's new road documentary about Asian Americans.
Meet the Composer/Reader's Digest Commissioning Program awarded a grant to theWalker Art Center to commission Jon Jang and James Newton to compose Cantata for Paul Robeson and Mei Manfang, a work which features an African American baritone, Chinese soprano, jazz quartet, chember music ensemble and African and Chinese instrumentation. The Bay Area première was performed at Cal Performances—UC Berkeley in 1997. Collaborations in 1996 included: Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2 for the Kronos Quartet; After Hours, a performance art work featuring David Mura and Kelvin Han Yee; and Take me out to the Tenderloin with the Pearl Ubungen Dancers. Two new CD recordings, Two Flowers on a Stem and Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 1, were released on Soul Note, an Italian-based label, in 1996.
In 1994, Jang was awarded a fellowship to do research on Beijing Opera in China. Mr. Jang has also been a visiting lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department at the University of California at Berkeley and Irvine. He has served as an evaluator for the Contemporary Music Division at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, artistic advisor for the Asia Society's "Crossovers" series and on panels for the NEA and Arts International. Beginning piano lessons at the late age of 19, Mr. Jang received his B.Mus degree in Piano Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1978 with only five years of formal training.
As the artistic director and pianist of the Pan Asian Arkestra and the Jon Jang Sextet, which features David Murray and Chen Jiebing, Mr. Jang's ensembles have toured at major jazz festivals and concerts in South Africa, Europe, Canada and the United States. He has also collaborated and performed with Max Roach, Sonia Sanchez, Genny Lim, John Santos, Victor Hernandez Cruz, and Billy Taylor. Mr. Jang has also performed with the Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Ensemble and the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players.
Introduction (from Tiananmen)