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IIRY Podcast: 31. Kenji Bunch. “The willingness to fail in public is so important.”
A chat with composer and musician Kenji Bunch, about taking creative risks, being a bi-racial Asian kid, and saying "yes" to everything.

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In my conversation with composer and musician Kenji Bunch, we discuss the value of listening to all music with respect and curiosity; why he draws parallels between his eclectic approach to music and classically trained food chefs; why improvising and playing in non-classical styles can be really difficult for classical musicians; what it was like […]

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IIRY Podcast: 29. Byron Au Yong, PART 2: “Shouting comes from having no choice.”
A chat with composer Byron Au Yong, about activism, representation, and why we can't avoid our painful experiences.

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In my conversation with composer Byron Au Yong, we discuss his works, “Stuck Elevator,” “The Ones,” and “Activist Songbook,” a trilogy that addresses what Americans fear and ways out of oppression; why representation matters and the importance of figuring out alternatives to dominant systems that oppress people; the practice of small, daily activism; and why […]

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IIRY Podcast: 28. Byron Au Yong: “Counteract the hate.”
A chat with composer Byron Au Yong, about how Western Classical music is not the only music in the world and the "healing powers of music."

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In my conversation with composer Byron Au Yong, we discuss why writing well “is a power”;  his childhood experiences with bullying and how music was a “shield”; the importance of affinity groups and centering his music in social justice; why love is an agent for change and protest; and the importance of continuing to “counteract […]

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IIRY Podcast: 25. Sean Wang: “My quietness was misunderstood as an act of defiance.”
A chat with violinist, conductor, and scholar, Sean Wang, about the burden of assimilation, microaggressions, and the "bamboo ceiling" in classical music.

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 In this conversation with violinist, conductor, and scholar, Sean Wang, we discuss the implicit bias Asians experience in white culture; the burden of assimilation placed on immigrants to adjust their behaviors, customs, and personhood for the comfort of the dominant culture;  and why “it seems in order to get to the same place as […]

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IIRY Podcast: 19. Mai Der Vang: “I have to be twice as good to be given access, to be heard.”
A chat with award-winning writer, Mai Der Vang, about being the child of Hmong immigrants; the challenges of being a female, P.O.C. artist; and why we must trust our own creative impulses.

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In this conversation that took place shortly before the pandemic and shelter-in-place order, award-winning writer Mai Der Vang and I discuss why failure is always a way to build resilience; the burden of excellence that many immigrants experience plus the challenges of being a female, P.O.C. writer and academic in the American literary landscape; and […]