Brenda Wong Aoki, Artistic Director
Thrice a NEA Theater Fellow, Brenda Wong Aoki writes and performs monodramas. Her intense lyrical song/dance/dramas are drawn from her grandfather’s memories of San Francisco during the Great Earthquake, Kabuki legends and her own personal life experience. Aoki’s multidisciplinary performances weave together Japanese Noh, Kyogen Theater, Commedia Dell’Arte, movement and voice. She has performed in such venues as the Kennedy Center, New Victory Theater on Broadway, Hong Kong Performing Arts Center, the Adelaide International Festival in Australia, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Graz Festival Austria and the International House in Tokyo.
Brenda’s plays have been produced world-wide: Mermaid, a work for symphony, was commissioned by Maestro Kent Nagano, the award-winning Queen’s Garden was published by Routledge Press and produced at the San Diego Repertory Theatre, Uncle Gunjiro’s Girlfriend was the American representative to the Adelaide International Festival, Australia, Random Acts was produced by the Dallas Theater Center, Kuan-Yin: Our Lady of Compassion was commissioned by the Hong Kong International Festival and performed at the Esplanade in Singapore, and Obake: Tales of Spirits Past and Present was presented at the Kennedy Center and on Broadway at the New Victory Theater. Her CD recordings of The Queen’s Garden and Tales of the Pacific Rim were awarded Indie Awards for Best Spoken Word. Her book/CD Mermaid Meat was released in Tokyo 2008 and her most recent recording Legend of Morning, was released in 2009. In 2013, she produced a pageant play with world musicians and dancers about the lost continent of MU to great success. Currently, she is developing "Suite J-Town," a new site-specific work about San Francisco Japantown to premiere in May 2015.
Brenda has deep roots in San Francisco. Her paternal grandfather was a founder of Japantown in the 1890’s, and her maternal grandmother was a leader of the first Chinatown garment union in the 1920s. She is a member of the Dramatist Guild, ASCAP and the Western Arts Alliance. Brenda is an active member of the National Recording Academy. A founding member of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University, Aoki continues to teach and perform internationally.
Mark Izu, Musical Director
Mark Izu, known for his integration of jazz with global modalities and instrumentation, composes for orchestra, jazz ensemble, film, theater and dance; plays contra bass, the sheng (Chinese traditional multi-reed instrument) and the sho (Japanese tradition multi-reed instrument). The only symphonic sho composer in the world, Izu premiered Mermaid, an orchestral work for Kent Nagano and the Berkeley Symphony. In 2005, he wrote the sho solo for, The Manzanar Project, also with Nagano. He received a 2009 Emmy for Bolinao 52, a documentary about the Vietnamese boat people. Izu’s odyssey began in 1976 with Japanese Imperial court master musician, Suenobu Togi, and continued until Togi’s death over 30 years later. Izu’s CD, Threading Time features the final recording of Togi Suenobu with Zakir Hussain (tabla), and was released in Tokyo. It received Tokyo’s Critic’s Choice for Top 10 jazz releases of 2008. Izu’s film scores include Academy Award-winning Days of Waiting; Emmy Award-winning Return to the Valley; and a new score for silent masterpiece, Dragon Painter. His theater scores were performed at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Sundance Festival. He was awarded a Dramalogue Award and two INDIE Awards for composition. Izu has received three Meet the Composer Commissions, a Japan/US Creative Artist Fellowship, and an ASCAP Award. Izu is a founding faculty member of Stanford University’s Institute of Diversity in the Arts. He lives with his family in San Francisco.
Nancy Hom, Visual Artist
Nancy Hom was born in Toisan, China and came to the United States when she was five years old. She grew up in New York City and graduated from Pratt Institute in 1971. She moved to San Francisco in 1974. She is an artist, writer, organizer, curator, and arts consultant with over 35 years of experience in the non-profit arts field.
Her art has been exhibited in numerous galleries, locally and internationally, including the de Young Museum, Euphrat Museum of Art, Stanford University, Oakland Museum, Museum of Art & History in Santa Cruz, De Saisset Museum, Intersection for the Arts, C.N. Gorman Museum, California Historical Society, SF International Airport, Asian American Arts Centre, New York City, Exhibits USA, C.A.L. Valeyre, Paris, France, and Somart San Angel, Villa Obregón, Mexico City.