Jason Ma

GOLD MOUNTAIN’s Jason Ma, Jazz Legend Dee Dee Bridgewater and COME FROM AWAY’s David Hein and Irene Sankoff Among Honorees At The 2017 ASCAP Foundation Honors

Jason Ma
Jason Ma

The 2017 ASCAP Foundation Honors were held at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City tonight.

Jason Ma, who created the book, music, lyrics and orchestrations for the musical Gold Mountain, an epic love story set against the backdrop of the 1860s construction of The Central Pacific Railroad, received The 2017 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award. The ASCAP Foundation also honored jazz legend Dee Dee Bridgewater with The ASCAP Foundation Champion Award, and acclaimed Broadway composers/lyricists/librettists David Hein and Irene Sankoff with the Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award.

A complete list of 2017 ASCAP Foundation Scholarship and Award recipients can be found here.

Past recipients of the Cole Porter Award, presented annually to an emerging composer/lyricist “whose work shows promise,” include Brett Ryback, Sam Willmott and Peter Mills.

Ma’s musical Gold Mountain was presented at the 2016 ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop in Los Angeles.

Jonny Lee Jr. and Ali Ewoldt. Photo by Lia Chang
Jonny Lee Jr. and Ali Ewoldt. Photo by Lia Chang

In late October, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA star Ali Ewoldt and Jonny Lee, Jr. starred in a glorious sold out concert of Gold Mountain at TheTimesCenter, directed by Alan Muraoka and produced by National Asian Artists Project in partnership with Prospect Theater Company as a part of Prospect’s IGNITE series. Gold Mountain is a love story set against the epic backdrop of a pivotal event in America’s history, the construction of the first transcontinental railroad, and celebrates the striving immigrant spirit, the redemptive power of love and the ultimate nobility of self-sacrifice. www.goldmountainthemusical.com

GOLD MOUNTAIN Director Alan Muraoka, Ali Ewoldt, Jonny Lee, Jr. and Creator Jason Ma at TheTimesCenter in New York on October 21, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
GOLD MOUNTAIN Director Alan Muraoka, Ali Ewoldt, Jonny Lee, Jr. and Creator Jason Ma at TheTimesCenter in New York on October 21, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

The cast also included Alan Ariano, Lawrence-Michael Arias, Eric Badique, Eric Bondoc,Tyler Bunch, Marc de la Cruz, Dan Edwards, Steven Eng, Alex Hsu, Brian Kim, Daniel May, and members of the NAAP Broadway Community Chorus: Ben Bartels, Eric Elizaga, David Eng, Alphonse Gonzales, Andrew Sakaguchi, and Viet Vo.

The Company of GOLD MOUNTAIN at TheTimesCenter in New York on October 21, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang
The Company of GOLD MOUNTAIN at TheTimesCenter in New York on October 21, 2017. Photo by Lia Chang

GOLD MOUNTAIN featured choreography by Billy Bustamante, music direction by Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, with Todd Low on erhu and viola, Steven Lyon on dizi, flute, and piccolo, and Leigh Stuart on cello. The concert was line produced by Julie L. Miller.

Billy Bustamante, Jason Ma, Baayork Lee, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, Alan Muraoka, Steven Eng and Cara Reichel. Photo by Lia Chang
Billy Bustamante, Jason Ma, Baayork Lee, Kristen Lee Rosenfeld, Alan Muraoka, Steven Eng and Cara Reichel. Photo by Lia Chang

I had the opportunity to photograph several rehearsals, tech, the performance and the afterparty. Below is my conversation with Jason.

Lawrence-Michael C. Arias, Alex Hsu, Alphonse Gonzales, Daniel May, Marc de la Cruz, Jason Ma, Daniel J. Edwards, Alan Ariano and Andrew Sakaguchi. Photo by Lia Chang
Lawrence-Michael C. Arias, Alex Hsu, Alphonse Gonzales, Daniel May, Marc de la Cruz, Jason Ma, Daniel J. Edwards, Alan Ariano and Andrew Sakaguchi. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: How has The Ascap Foundation made a difference in your life and career?
Jason: The ASCAP Foundation put Gold Mountain front and center before a panel of some of the most respected and successful writers in the business during the 2016 ASCAP/DreamWorks Musical Theatre Workshop, led by Stephen Schwartz. The feedback from these folks was so encouraging and practical, and I was able to apply all their good information in the continued work on the piece afterward. Inclusion in the workshop opened many doors for me. The ASCAP stamp of approval worked wonders and resulted in a number of opportunities for growth and visibility.

GOLD MOUNTAIN creator Jason Ma and the company in rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
GOLD MOUNTAIN creator Jason Ma and the company in rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What does it mean to you to receive The 2017 ASCAP Foundation Cole Porter Award?
Jason: It means that the American dream is alive and well. My father came into the country with forged papers while the Chinese Exclusion Act was federal law. For the son of an illegal immigrant to be given an award named after Cole Porter is probably the most awesome sign to me that all things are still possible, even in this day and age.

Jason Ma with his parents at Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada.
Jason Ma with his parents at Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada.

Lia: What inspired you to create Gold Mountain?
Jason: I’m still figuring this one out. I was in the middle of a performance backstage during a long run of a show when I started picturing and hearing a Chinese man and woman on a hillside in America sharing their memories of home with each other. I asked myself, “Who are they and how did they get there?” and then the writing started. In the ensuing years since then, I’ve tried to figure out where that initial creative impulse came from. Perhaps it was an attempt to fill in a gap in the musical theater canon — a story written about a community which is not often included in our culture and stories, and an opportunity to see the world and our country’s history through a different, but universal, lens of human experience.

GOLD MOUNTAIN musical director Kristen Lee Rosenfeld and creator Jason Ma at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
GOLD MOUNTAIN musical director Kristen Lee Rosenfeld and creator Jason Ma at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma. Photo by Lia Chang
Jason Ma. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia: What did it feel like to experience the concert of Gold Mountain in New York?
Jason: It felt like this:

I had this lovely corner in the back of the house all to myself, where I had a view of the entire audience. To watch them experience this story and see how invested they were in the lives of the people onstage was an experience of a lifetime for me. I’m still reeling from it.

Jason Ma’s GOLD MOUNTAIN Concert and AfterParty 

The Company of GOLD MOUNTAIN in rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
The Company of GOLD MOUNTAIN in rehearsal at Ripley-Grier Rehearsal Studios in New York. Photo by Lia Chang
GOLD MOUNTAIN received a 2017 eStudio grant for a workshop at The Masie Center this past summer. Courtesy of Masie Productions
GOLD MOUNTAIN received a 2017 eStudio grant for a workshop at The Masie Center this past summer. Courtesy of Masie Productions

Gold Mountain was also selected for development by Apples & Oranges Studios for their 2017 THEatre ACCELERATOR, presented as a staged reading for San Francisco LaborFest 2016 at The Aurora Theatre, and received a 2017 eStudio grant for a workshop at The Masie Center this past summer.

Jason Ma has provided theater music for The Old Globe, Ma-Yi Theater Company, Leviathan Lab, and Ugly Rhino, and is the composer and co-lyricist for the full-length musical Barcelona, written with Christine Toy Johnson (book/co-lyricist). He is also an actor who has appeared in a number of productions on Broadway, as well as numerous regional, international and Off-Broadway productions.

Francis Jue, Lia Chang, Alan Muraoka, Ann Harada, Robert Sella, Christine Toy Johnson and Jason Ma. Photo by Daniel J. Edwards
Francis Jue, Lia Chang, Alan Muraoka, Ann Harada, Robert Sella, Christine Toy Johnson and Jason Ma. Photo by Daniel J. Edwards

About The ASCAP Foundation

Founded in 1975, The ASCAP Foundation is a charitable organization dedicated to supporting American music creators and encouraging their development through music education, talent development and humanitarian programs. Included in these are songwriting workshops, grants, scholarships, awards, recognition and community outreach programs. The ASCAP Foundation is supported by contributions from ASCAP members and from music lovers throughout the United States.

www.ascapfoundation.org

Jonny Lee, Jr. and the ensemble. Photo by Lia Chang
Jonny Lee, Jr. and the ensemble. Photo by Lia Chang

Broadwayworld.com: Photo Flash: Alan Muraoka Helms Jason Ma’s GOLD MOUNTAIN; Concert At TimesCenter On October 21

National Asian Artists Project and Prospect Theater Company Present a Concert Performance of Jason Ma’s GOLD MOUNTAIN Featuring Ali Ewoldt, Jonny Lee, Jr., Alan Ariano, and More at The TimesCenter on October 21 

Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang, Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2017 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at liachangpr@gmail.com

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