"Classy, Sassy, Jazzy Hong Kong Night" 25A Gala Reception and Performance by Eugene Pao Quartet Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum Washington, D.C.

Remarks by Sylvester Wong
Director, Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office
The Freer Gallery of Art
September 16, 2022

Good evening. I’m Sylvester Wong. Welcome to the Renwick Gallery for an evening of jazz amidst the art.

First off, I would like to welcome to Washington our musicians who have flown in from Hong Kong: Eugene Pao, Ted Lo, Sylvain Gagnon, and Anthony Fernandes. Washington is the third stop on their four-city US tour. I’m glad we made the cut.

I would like to thank the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York and Cathay Pacific for making possible this evening’s performance and the quartet’s US tour, which is part of our milestone programming for the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Before I continue with my brief remarks, I would like to take a moment to honor Grammy-winning jazz pianist Ramsey Lewis who on Monday passed away in his hometown of Chicago. I think that he would appreciate that a love of jazz is what has brought us together this evening.

Since the past summer, our office has gradually returned to hosting in-person events. Just last month we concluded the 27th annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival, co-organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art. The annual film festival, as well as this evening’s program, provide platforms to draw communities together through a shared appreciation of the arts.

Tonight we come together to embrace a quintessential American art form: jazz. Originating in the African-American communities of New Orleans, jazz embodies the soul of this nation’s vibrancy and cultural expressionism. As the late Dr. Billy Taylor described it, jazz is “America’s classical music.”

What makes jazz exceptional and globally alluring is that it is a musical language open to personal interpretation and improvisation. Its influence is international in scope – and Hong Kong is no exception. Hong Kong has development its own lively and self-sufficient jazz scene, including concerts, educational programming, and intimate jazz clubs.

Jazz creates positive energy. Tonight we are privileged to welcome four repositories of unbound musical energy. I would like to thank each one of you for helping to promote the diversity and vitality of Hong Kong’s jazz scene.

I hope this evening’s performance by these remarkably talented musicians further enriches our cross-cultural exchanges.

Thank you