Art and Activism

Performing Asia: Traditional and Contemporary Music from China and Taiwan, 2023

Presented in partnership with the Houston Symphony and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, this concert at Asia Society Texas featured Ms. Sham in the United States premiere of East and West XIA by Taiwanese composer Huang-Long Pan.

Stop and Listen: Music of POC Composers, 2021

Motivated to merge current events and music, Ms. Sham has spearheaded multiple projects outlining the importance of multiculturalism through art. In January 2021, she was invited to perform a solo recital of music by POC composers for the Greater Houston chapter of the American Harp Society, and will perform another concert for Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts in late April. Click here to view a list of harp works by POC and female-identifying composers.

Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience, Climate Justice Training Workshop, 2021

In February 2021, Ms. Sham was invited to perform for a Climate Justice Training workshop in which Houstonians uncover the past, understand the present, and envision a more just and equitable future, learning about how racism shaped policies in the past and how those policies are impacting the climate crisis right here in Houston.

The In-Between (Rachel Gibson), 2019

lost in the Middle
now we are the In-Between
never could choose Sides

“The In-Between” (2019) is a performance-installation that seeks to reunite identities that may seem far apart from each other. For me, it is growing up as an Asian-American.

The performance-installation features guzheng (a traditional Chinese instrument) and harp, which represent the “East” and “West,” respectively. The players are interpreting a graphic score that wraps around the gallery by freely improvising on Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and Korean folk songs. Their sound is also being live-processed.

In the background, a soft, generative soundscape plays. The soundscape is being generated by using search term data from Google Trends. This installation used the data of three search terms: “China,” “Chinese Adoption,” and “Sichuan.” The data of each controlled probability-based parameters such as sound selection, volume, and sound spatialization, respectively.

The sound mobile in the middle of the space is made of broken mirrors, which symbolize how identity is never cut and dry. An accelerometer attached to the mobile wirelessly transmits data to a Max patch, which controls the manipulation of sound in real-time.

Ultimately, the space invites you to interact with the sound mobile and reflect on what your identity means to you.

Rachel Gibson, guzheng
Kelsey Sham, harp
Special thanks to the student members of Oberlin College and Conservatory’s Asian American Alliance for helping me paint the score.

The In-Between, 2019

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