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AASA Presents Bravo Awards, Music Scholarships

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From left: Emcee David Ono, Bravo Award recipient Helen Ota, AASA President Alison Jamele, Consul General Akira Chiba, AASA Music Director David Benoit.

The Asia America Symphony Association & Guild held its annual Bravo Awards Gala on June 16 at the L.A. Grand Hotel.

David Ono of ABC7 Eyewitness News served as emcee. Opening remarks were given by AASA President Alison Jamele, AASA Music Director and Conductor David Benoit, and AASA Executive Director and 2019 Bravo Chair Darryl Tanikawa.

Sophia Wang, one of the D.K. Kim Music Scholarship winners, is congratulated by David Benoit and AASA Executive Director Darryl Tanikawa.

Benoit and the Asia America Youth Symphony performed “Surfin’ Medley,” “Dad’s Room” and “Watermelon Man.”

The D.K. Kim Music Scholarship Awards, which are given to assist worthy Asia America Youth Symphony students in pursuit of music education at the university level, were presented by Benoit, Tanikawa and AASA Vice President Craig Sunada. The recipients were Gabriel Nieves (tenor sax), Joseph Loi (flute), Sophia Wang (viola) and Jeremy Gray (clarinet). Wang is also a recipient of the Kay Sakaguchi Youth Scholarship Award.

The Asia America Youth Symphony, founded in 2001 by Benoit, provides opportunities for young musicians of all races, cultures and up to age 18 to play in a professional-level ensemble. By performing musically demanding and diverse repertoire, students are challenged to master a wide variety of musical styles, ranging from classical to jazz.

The Bravo Awards were presented by Benoit, Tanikawa and Consul General Akira Chiba to:

Left: Jun Yamato accepts the Bravo Award on behalf of Roland Corporation. Right: Bravo Award winner Gail Gerding Mellert.

Roland Corporation, founded by Ikutaro Kakehashi, an influential maker of musical instruments and developer of MIDI, a standardized means of synchronizing electronic musical instruments developed by different companies. Benoit, a pianist, praised the quality of Roland’s pianos. Accepting on behalf of Roland was Jun Yamato, vice president and general counsel.

The Nisei Week Court, including Princess Monica Katie Snyder, helped out during the live auction.

Helen Ota, a singer who is known for her work with Cold Tofu Improv, Grateful Crane Ensemble, Nisei Week Foundation, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center, Kizuna, and many other organizations.

Gail Gerding Mellert, founding member and violinist of Prima Divas and freelance musician and teacher who is also known for her work with Sterling/Delay Symposium, Southern California Chamber Music Institute, and Southern California Suzuki Institute.

The 2018 Nisei Week Court was on hand to assist with the live auction. Ono gave special thanks to Chiba, who was attending for the last time, having been reassigned to Tokyo.

Members of the Asia America Youth Symphony.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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