Asian Performing Arts Council History
Asian Performing Arts Council (APAC), formerly known as Asian Performing Arts of Colorado, was established in 1986 as a non-profit organization to foster cultural exchange between the United States and Asia, particularly China. Founded by Dr. Martha Liao, a former geneticist who was one of the earliest scientists to introduce recombinant DNA technology to China, APAC has organized countless gala concerts, recitals, community outreaches, exhibitions, TV and radio programs, and other events reaching numerous audiences in both the United States and China. Under Dr. Liao’s leadership as chairman since its founding 25 years ago, APAC has assisted over 100 Chinese performing artists from all disciplines – instrumentalists, composers, singers, dancers and traditional Chinese musicians – in their training and career development.
APAC has supported musicians for studies at the finest institutions such as the Juilliard School, Mannes College, Boston University, and University of Denver Lamont School, among others. APAC’s extensive sponsorship and support have launched many singers onto important stages such as the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, San Francisco Opera, Washington National Opera, New York City Opera, in major opera capitals such as Paris, Berlin and Vienna; as well as with top-tier orchestras in the world including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, among others.
In 2005, APAC sponsored and coordinated the master class series by legendary tenor Carlo Bergonzi in Beijing, funded by the Anna and John J. Sie Foundation; and co-sponsored the Shanghai International Master Class Opera Program, bringing coaches, conductors and stage directors from the Metropolitan Opera to work with the finest young Chinese vocalists.
APAC has consistently championed Chinese contemporary music. In 2004 it sponsored and presented the Water Passion after St. Matthew by Tan Dun in Denver. In 2007, APAC co-commissioned and co-produced Guo Wenjing’s Poet Li Bai with the Central City Opera in Colorado. The critical and public success of its world premiere in Central City led to subsequent performances in Beijing, Shanghai, Rome, Hong Kong and Los Angeles.
APAC founded the I SING BEIJING program in collaboration with Hanban/Confucius Institute Headquarters in 2011. The first-ever such initiative to bring Western singers to China for intensive training in both Chinese and Western operatic craft, I SING BEIJING makes its debut concert at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, celebrating also the 25th anniversary of APAC’s achievements in fostering cultural exchange and promoting the arts.
In 2014, I SING BEIJING became iSING! International Young Artists Festival, the iSING! annual vocal summer program took place in Suzhou, China, at the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre. Since then, Suzhou became the official home of iSING! Festival. Suzhou is an alluring city with a 2000-year-old history and hailed as "Venice of the Orient".
In 2020, iSING! started a new project, the iSING! 2020 Composition Competition. The iSING! Festival commissioned young composers from all over the world to set Tang poems to music to be sung in Mandarin by young artists from all over the world. After a seven-month process, 14 composers were selected as grand-prize and honorable mention winners from 101 entries from 18 countries. iSING! Festival celebrated a world premiere concert of theses new music in November, 2020 at the Suzhou Grand Theatre. The title of the concert “Echoes from the Ancients - iSING! Offering Tang Poems to the World, ”accompanied by the Suzhou Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Maestro Lin Daye, 11 iSINGERs from seven countries, they performed in Mandarin, the timeless Tang poems -- creating a new chapter in contemporary Chinese music creation. With the support from partners, colleagues, friends, and sponsors both in China and the United States, this historic concert premiered the winners of the inaugural iSING! 2020 Composition Competition.