Purple Silk Music Education Foundation
Chinese folk music and opera
About the Organization
The mission of the Purple Silk Music Education Foundation (PSMEF) is “to instill in young people an appreciation of music from different cultures through instruction in traditional Chinese instruments, opera, and folk songs.” PSMEF provides music education to local public school students (grades K-12), offering underserved children and youth opportunities to train with professional musicians, increase their musical knowledge and proficiency, and perform in community and educational venues.
PSMEF was founded in 1995 when Sherlyn Chew, a music teacher at Lincoln Elementary School in Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood and an instructor of Chinese music at nearby Laney College, started a Chinese music program at Lincoln in response to cuts in school arts funding. PSMEF became a nonprofit in 1998 and now has eight teaching artists.
Living Cultures Grant
Honoring Our Elders: Music for Community Healing and Resilience
Supported by ACTA’s Living Cultures Grant Program in 2022, PSMEF will invite Cantonese music specialists to work with students in its Chinese music programs in Oakland and San Francisco. The project will bring healing through music to local seniors who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and the related rise in anti-Asian violence.
Celebrating Cantonese Folk Songs of the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad
In 2021, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grant Program will support PSMEF’s Celebrating Cantonese Folk Songs of the Chinese Immigrants Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad project. The organization will hold classes focused on the Cantonese folk music traditions of the Chinese immigrants who worked on the Transcontinental Railroad in the mid-1800s.
Afterschool Music Education
In 2019, a grant from ACTA’s Living Cultures Grant Program supported the PSMEF’s afterschool music education program. In particular, grant funds supported the introduction of a special learning unit focused on Cantonese opera and folk music.