Concert Preview: Symphony Tacoma Brings World Premiere Of ‘Tacoma Method’

Zuill Bailey

A compelling opera based on the expulsion of Chinese residents from Tacoma in 1885 will make its world premiere at the Pantages Theater on Feb. 25. As part of Symphony Tacoma’s regular subscription series, February’s concert, titled “Reconciliation,” will include excerpts from “Tacoma Method” composed by Pacific Lutheran University Professor of Music Greg Youtz and librettist Zhang Er, a Beijing born-and-raised Chinese poet now teaching at Evergreen College Tacoma. 

“Tacoma Method,” which was awarded major funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, is a most unique and captivating opera depicting the true story of a dark time in Tacoma history when all Chinese people living in Tacoma were violently torn from their homes and run out of town by a vicious mob. Forced to leave everything behind except what they could grab and carry in their panicked state, these Chinese citizens scattered for safety while their homes were ransacked and burned. 

Prior to the “Tacoma Method” premiere, a panel discussion will take place upstairs at the Pantages. Moderated by Chinese Reconciliation Project Foundation board member and University of Puget Sound Asian Studies instructor Lotus Perry, the panel will include Hosley, composer Youtz and librettist Er; mezzo-soprano soloist Hai-Ting Chinn who will be traveling from New York to sing an aria in the “Tacoma Method” premiere; Doug Andreassen from the Tacoma Historical Society; Tacoma Opera General Manager Lim Forgey; Symphony Tacoma Executive Director Karina Bharne and conductor Sarah Ioannides; and Andrew Gomez, University of Puget Sound Associate Professor of History.

“The idea is to give all these organizations a chance to talk about their own interest in these historical events – why it’s important to talk about this now, how they feel about it being done as an opera and why Symphony Tacoma is interested in doing these excerpts,” Youtz said. 

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