New York Philharmonic, President and Executive Director
Zarin Mehta, one of the world’s leading arts administrators, was appointed Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic in September 2000, and received the additional title of President in June 2004. Mr. Mehta has continually sought to enrich and broaden the musical experience of Philharmonic audiences by fostering an active commissioning program, and instituting innovative series of lectures and discussions. He has overseen major international Orchestra tours in Asia and throughout Europe, helping to make the Philharmonic a worldwide cultural ambassador. An event that highlighted this role was the historic February 2008 concert in Pyongyang, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Also under Mr. Mehta’s aegis, the Philharmonic welcomed its first-ever Global Sponsor, Credit Suisse.
Mr. Mehta has maintained the Philharmonic’s preeminent position in New York City’s cultural life through free events, and has made outreach to young people a priority, continuing the famed Young People’s Concerts, expanding the Orchestra’s extensive educational activities, and introducing the Very Young People’s Concerts, for children ages three to six. In addition, with the world’s rapid embrace of new media, Mr. Mehta has championed important new initiatives to bring the Orchestra into the digital age, greatly enhancing its outreach and audience development efforts.
Mr. Mehta was born in Bombay in 1938. He is the son of the late violinist and Bombay Symphony Orchestra founder Mehli Mehta — who is largely credited with introducing western classical music to India. He is also the brother of the celebrated conductor Zubin Mehta, who was the New York Philharmonic’s Music Director from 1978 to 1991.
Previously served New York State Council on the Arts, Program Associate, Special Arts Services Program
Barbara Ho has had a long career working in the public and non profit sector. Growing up in the Lower Eastside during the 60’s and 70’s played an important part in shaping her work in the Chinese American community. Her work experience as a resource teacher at several after-school programs/community centers in Chinatown, and internships at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the American Museum of Natural History, gave her a deep foundation for the non-profit arts field. Barbara was a consultant and photographer for the exhibition, Hands & Hearts: A Look at the Traditional Skills of Lower Eastside. The exhibit was a collaborative effort of CAW Collect and The Museum of Contemporary Crafts of the American Crafts Council (The American Crafts Museum).
In 1976 when Barbara began her career as an Arts Program Analyst at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), she was one of few arts/grants administers working in the field. During her 34 years at NYSCA, she was in the unique position of overseeing the development of culturally diverse organization in New York State, particularly ethnic based organizations that made up the roster of the Special Arts Services Program. From 1991 to 2001, Barbara was principal manager of the Special Arts Service Program TAP, a technical assistance program that retained professionals who worked as consultants to small and mid-sized organizations to resolve management/development concerns. It was a model program that sought to address and resolve stabilization, leadership and succession issues that confronted a growing number of arts/cultural organizations.
She has served on many panels, among them the New Jersey Council on the Arts, Asian American Arts Alliance’s Chase Manhattan SMARTS Regrant Program, and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian’s Indigenous Contemporary Arts Program.
In 1990’s, she received a Salute to Chinese American Cultural Pioneers award from City Council President, Andrew Stein for pioneering and promoting the arts and Asian culture, and an Outstanding Community Service award from Chen Dance Center.
Fay Ann Lee
Actor, Director, Writer
Fay Ann Lee began her career as a Broadway actress in Miss Saigon, which led to principal roles in regional theaters across the country and internationally. Venturing into on-camera work, she landed recurring and guest starring roles on soaps and top 10 primetime shows like Law & Order, Third Watch and Criminal Intent - but was quickly confronted with the lack of good roles for Asian actors.
Her proactive response was to pen her first screenplay, Falling For Grace, which placed in several top screenwriting competitions in the U.S. including The Nicholl Fellowship. Lee ultimately also took on producing and directing responsibilities on the project, after raising the production budget herself – a script-to-screen process that took eight years. Falling For Grace premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and was an immediate sold-out hit.
Fay Ann Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong. Her parents immigrated to Texas when she was 15. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA/MBA from The Wharton School. She now sees herself as a proud American who calls New York City her home.
Rising Circle Theater Collective, Co-founder
Deepa Purohit has worked extensively in theater in New York for almost ten years and in non-profit education reform for more than fifteen years. Ms. Purohit co-founded Rising Circle Theater Collective in 2000 with fellow artist and educator, Rod Bowen, and is currently its Artistic Director. Rising Circle Theater Collective focuses on bringing unheard stories of people of color to the American stage and creating a much-needed home for theater artists of color to develop and stage these stories.
She has overseen the development and/or production of twelve original plays written by playwrights of color in the past six years, the expansion of programming with Q Up, a five-day arts intensive for Asian American high school girls from Queens, and the development of Rising Circle’s, INKtank, a 12-week writers lab for writers of color.
Ms. Purohit holds a BA from Northwestern University in history and African studies, and an MPH from ColumbiaUniversity in health promotion and disease prevention. She is a self-taught playwright and trained in acting at the Harlem Theater Company and has trained with master clown Chris Bayes and master mask teacher, Per Brahe inNew York. Ms. Purohit made her television debut in 2001 as a guest star on The Sopranos; she also has had roles on Law and Order Criminal Intent, One Life to Live, and The Education of Max Bickford.
Michelle Park currently reports on New York City's top restaurants, bars and nightclubs, as well as February and September's NY Fashion Weeks on NY1. Michelle Park is also an anchor/reporter for NY1 News' Queens Unit. She has been working with the station since December of 2007. Before joining NY1, she worked as a reporter in Trenton and anchor/reporter in Los Angeles. She also spent time as editorial assistant and associate producer at KNBC in LA. In her spare time, she teaches in the media studies department at Queens College and enjoys finding new restaurants (from fine dining to dives!) around the city.
Park earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Stanford University.
Violinist Jennifer Koh has earned a world-wide reputation for being unique in her generation for bringing her probing intellectual acuity to contemporary and traditional repertoire in equal measure, and is beloved by audiences and critics alike for her consummate musicianship and the daring passion of her performances.
Ms. Koh is committed to exploring connections between the pieces she plays, searching for similarities of voice among composers, as well as within the works of a single composer. Accordingly, her programs often present rare and revealing juxtapositions, offering works by composers as divergent as Mozart and Ligeti, Schubert and Saariaho.
Born in Chicago of Korean parents, Ms. Koh currently resides in New York City. Ms. Koh is a graduate of Oberlin College and an alumna of the Curtis Institute, where she worked extensively with Jaime Laredo and Felix Galimir. Ms. Koh is grateful to her private sponsor for the generous loan of the 1727 Ex Grumiaux Ex General DuPont Stradivari she uses in performance. (www.jenniferkoh.com)
Arabic music & dance
Zikrayat is a New York City-based Arabic music and dance group unique in presenting the classical and dance repertoires of the Arab World side-by-side. Led by violinist, composer and vocalist Sami Abu Shumays and dancer Dameshe Shumays, Zikrayat also features vocalists Yousef Kassab, Salma Habib and Salah Rajab, and a talented lineup of acousitc instrumentalists and Egyptian-style dancers. Zikrayat specializes in rare and lesser-known repertory from the "Golden Age" of Egyptian cinema, especially from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, and has developed a multi-media show, based on film clips from the period synchronized with live music and dance performances. For more information, classes, and bookings, visit www.zikrayatmusic.com. To see performance videos visit www.youtube.com/user/zikrayatmusic.
Michael Mao Dance
Michael Mao's choreographed works have been presented in Manhattan at the Joyce Theater, Dance Theater Workshop, Danny Kaye Playhouse, Riverside Theater, Bryant Park, City Center Dance Space, Madison Square Garden, Columbus Park, Pepsico/Purchase, Chelsea Art Museum, LaMAMA, China Institute, as well as throughout the United States; abroad in Paris, Oslo, Stockholm, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, and throughout Mexico for the Festival Internacional Cervantino.
His works have been recommended for touring by the USIA. His company receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, New York State Council for the Arts, IBM, State Street Bank, Seth Sprague Foundation, Dunwalke-Dillon Trusts and the Open Society Foundations through Funds for the City of New York, and NYC Department of Culture, Michael Bloomberg, Mayor.
The gala's performance will be an excerpt from the piece WEAVING, danced by Stacy Yoshioka, Kristin Draucker, Osamu Inoue, and Kevin Fay, with music by Kodo, costumes by Andrea Huelse, and choreography by Michael Mao. (www.michaelmaodance.org)