Published: March 28, 2022 By

Dr. Eric Hung

The American Music Research Center (AMRC) at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Music is hosting a lecture, “Asian American Identities in Music Video,” by Dr. Eric Hung, executive director of the Music of Asian America Research Center, on 13 April 2022.

A musicologist, pianist, and conductor, Hung has performed around the world, and he was a tenured professor at Westminster Choir College for several years. Hung is also passionate about the real possibilities of diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Over time, he became convinced that the way to change the culture of universities and other large institutions was through grassroots community work.

In 2017, Hung co-founded the Music of Asian America Research Center to empower Asian American communities through music. To achieve this mission, Hung and the rest of the MAARC staff have created a central information center about Asian American Music that continues to expand its digital archive of oral histories, artifacts, and sound/video recordings. The MAARC also creates educational programs for all ages and fosters collaboration with musicians, researchers, teachers, and community leaders. Hung’s work with MAARC has changed his relationship with his own professional identity. “At this point in my life,” he says, “I think I see myself more as a community organizer and educator than a scholar.”

Hung often uses music videos in his work because they are short, accessible, easily shareable and because they allow him to discuss several different ideas with a wide variety of audiences, especially Asian and Asian Americans who often do not see themselves in the mainstream narratives of history, except in discussion of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese railroad workers, and Japanese American incarceration during World War II. The situation is even more dire in music history, where there are few role models for Asian American musicians in the pages of most traditional textbooks.

“Because the majority of Asian American families arrived in the US after 1970,” Hung explained, “few in our communities ever learned older Asian American history from family members.” They do not know about the rich musical heritage of their own communities including performers like the Kim Loo Sisters (a Chinese American WWII-era vocal quartet), the Kim Sisters (a Korean-born American trio of multi-instrumentalists and singers), Fanny (a pioneering 70s rock trio founded by Filipino American sisters June and Jean Millington), Japanese American jazz pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi, or Asian American hip hop artists like the Mountain Brothers.

By promoting Asian American music history, Hung hopes to fight the “perpetual foreigner” stereotype that can sometimes haunt Asian Americans by giving them “a sense that they have roots in the country, and that they belong.”

Asian American Identities in Music Video will take place on Wednesday 13 April 2022 at 2:30 pm in IMIG S101. The event is free and open to the public. This is a hybrid event. Register for the virtual event here