By Michael Tseng
The Arcadia Performing Arts Center (PAC) held its inaugural gala last Saturday, hoping to raise funds for the arts, drama, music and theatre programs in the Arcadia Unified School District’s elementary schools. The gala, starting at five in the afternoon for VIP members, invited an assortment of guests from Arcadia, Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley. The event even received recognition from Congresswoman Judy Chu and Assembly Member Ed Chau, who both presented the Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation with an award for five years of cultural advancement in Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley.
The director of the PAC, Maki Hsieh, partnered up with the neighboring Arcadia High School to have its percussion students play live music during the VIP session. Ally Huerta, a junior at the school, says, “Performing at the gala is a great experience, and we [percussion] love the lively ambiance and hope that everyone enjoys the music that we play.”
During the meet and greet, guests were presented with a variety of prizes to auction for, such as a Pink Floyd album, or re-mastered catalogue of the Beatles album, which raised around $1500 dollars. Guests were also served a delicious barbeque dinner, including grilled chicken, beef, shrimp and other side dishes. For dessert, the audience was served ice cold scones and cookies, before making their way to the performance area.
As the show began and the lights dimmed, the audience quieted down, and two solitary figures remained on the stage. Opening remarks were made, and the audience gave a polite applause before silence finally took over the room. Then, NBC’s The Voice superstar Chris Mann stepped up and serenaded his audience with his unique rendition of The Phantom of the Opera’s “Music of the Night.” As he sang the final verses, the audience stood up, cheering, whistling, and calling for an encore. And to the crowd’s delight, he delivered. But this time, Arcadia High School’s Band, Chanteurs, Orchestra and Orchesis all came out for a collaborative performance with Chris Mann.
The Arcadia High School Performing Arts students displayed the skill and talent that they have and showed the audience what a well-funded arts program can achieve. Mrs.Hsieh hopes that this performance will be able to persuade the community’s residents to support the arts program, in hopes of a better future for its students. She says,“The inaugural gala is a celebration of the community coming together for a very important cause, which is equality for all students regardless of zip code. An access to arts education. Arcadia Unified was ranked 15 in the state last week, however, we’re one of the last school systems, both private and public, to integrate arts education into elementary schools. This means that right now, we’re pulling kids out of classrooms instead of having qualified credentialed teachers in art, dance, and music and theatre go into the classroom and teach each child. What I’m hoping we can accomplish today is to really come together as a community and to celebrate a success, and to celebrate all of the amazing work we have done already, which is to elevate cultural advancement, but also to look forward into a new vision, which is to provide equality to all children, and excellence and access to all those opportunities for everyone.”