First Year’s Wrap Up

Clarion’s first year as a performing arts center included concerts with world class musicians, an elegant gathering of Chinese music and poetry, the opera Il Trovatore presented by Teatro Mistral, readings of Silvia Gonzalez’s play which will be produced in 2018 by SF City Theatre Company, murder mystery shows by the Grant Avenue Follies, poetry TV tapings, music open mics, art openings, literary readings, a benefit for Puerto Rico, student recitals and finished with the Christmas opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. 
We gratefully acknowledge a generous grant from the Rex Foundation and we look forward to the new year where new work will be produced and experiments will be made.

A Bold Beginning

Teatro Mistral Premiere Performance
Italian Opera in San Francisco Chinatown

Teatro Mistral is a new Bay Area company based on a deeply held conviction that live theatre, opera and dance make an invaluable, irreplaceable contribution to the quality of life in the communities they serve.

Under the direction of Vismaya Lhi, time honored, historically
proven operas are included alongside lesser known compositions that deserve a hearing. Each production seeks to understand how the changing nature of relationships colors our vision and understanding of the world we all live in.

In its premiere performance Teatro Mistral will present Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore with an ethnically diverse cast as a reimagined east-west folktale. Performances take place at Clarion Music Performing Arts Center, the first theatre and art space of its kind in the heart of San Francisco Chinatown. Audiences will find themselves in a cozy salon inches away from the performers reveling in the power of the human voice. The production is directed by Vismaya Lhi (Artistic Director), Frank Johnson (Music Director) and David Acevedo (Stage Director.) Featured in title roles are: Vismaya Lhi, Claudio Santome, Rachel Warner, Tristan Robben, J. T. Williams, Ellen Yeung, Veronique Kherian and Steve Kahn.

Performance dates : August 20, 26 and 27.
Tickets are on sale at
For information on Teatro Mistral go to
For information on Vismaya Lhi go to

The Essentials of an Elegant Gathering

In this day and age, who has the time to drink (real) tea, listen to Chinese qin music and above all, poetry? It’s probably very far from the current social media consciousness. But remember this: as much as the body needs to be fed, so does the soul.


To know Chinese culture is to know the qin—a musical instrument that dates back to China’s prehistory. The tone of the qin allows its listener access to stillness, a moment of cessation from the physical world so that a glimpse of something vulnerable and precious may be revealed. The music is meditative, calling to mind the sounds of water, wind, rain, falling leaves and flights of birds, restoring the soul to nature.


Thanks to NASA, the aliens have already had a head start. Someone in outer space is listening:

In 1977, a recording of “Flowing Water” (Liu Shui, as performed by Guan Pinghu, one of the best qin players of the 20th century) was chosen to be included in the Voyager Golden Record, a gold-plated LP recording containing music from around the world, which was sent into outer space by NASA on the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft. It is the longest excerpt included on the disc. The reason to select a work played on this specific instrument is because the tonal structure of the instrument, its musical scale, is derived from fundamental physical laws related to vibration and overtones, representing the intellectual capacity of human beings on this subject.  —Wikipedia


The sound of the qin is best suited to accompany the human voice. The human voice is poetic, speaking from the depth of life experiences. “Poetry saves lives” is not a casual statement. Many have come back from the brink of destruction, despair and oppression by reading or remembering a verse. William Ernest Henley’s Invictus is an example:

The poem was read by US POWs in North Vietnamese prisons. James Stockdale (United States Navy vice admiral and aviator ) recalls being passed the last stanza, written with rat droppings on toilet paper, from fellow prisoner David Hatcher. —wikipedia

Poetry is a thing that stays hidden and mute until needed. When we reach for it, it will accompany our journey for another mile. But we have to at least know that this lifeline exists and we must nurture it by reading or listening occasionally. No, it is not entertainment. It is meditation, it is yoga, it is spiritualism, it is love.


Tea (along with soy sauce, oil and vinegar.) is one of the seven necessities of Chinese life. One sees the practicality of soy sauce, oil and vinegar. But what about a leaf in a bowl of water? Perhaps it is medicinal. Perhaps it is ritualistic. But it is not a convenience nor a quick fix to satisfy thirst. Tea ceremony is a communal experience, to serve and be served with something exquisite and refined. It articulates a sensual language that rounds out the experience of an elegant gathering.


San Francisco Chinatown with its long dark history of immigrants working in the mines, the railroads and the Sacramento levees did not have the luxury of elegant gatherings. But it is here, in the same streets that laborers had toiled and struggled that a new art revival is happening. Tranquil Resonance Studio together with Clarion Music Performing Arts Center will present an evening of elegant gathering. David Wong, guqin master, will perform on the instrument with friends. Poet Clara Hsu will read in English and Chinese translations from the work of William Blake (English poet, 1757-1827) and Chinese and English translations of the work of Lao-Tzu (ancient Chinese philosopher, 604-531 BC). Gongfu tea will be served. There will also be an exhibition of Chinese paintings and calligraphy in the adjoining Galeria Clarion. It is time for the assiduous minds (if not exhausted bodies) to take a break from the daily challenges, the computer screens, cell phones and text messages and enjoy a moment of tranquility, guided by music and words, the beauty of Chinese paintings and the aroma of tea.

Music, poetry, art and tea may serve as a conduit into the essence of Chinese culture. Its aesthetic is built on purity. Its virtue is all-embracing. As Lao-Tzu wrote, “in it there are images…in it there are objects…in it there is a vital energy…in it there is trust.” —Tao-te Ching, passage 21


Chinese Music | Lao-Tzu |William Blake
An Elegant Tea Gathering

Clarion Music Performing Arts Center
816 Sacramento Street (entrance on Waverly Place)
San Francisco, CA 94108

July 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Tickets $20-$25 at

Holidays Tree-Trimming Jollies

Children are invited to make ornaments and decorate Clarion’s Christmas tree on Saturday December 10. Come anytime between 10 am and 4 pm. Our resident art teacher Maria Gonzalez will be here to advise and assist. We supply the materials. You do the creative work. There will be apple cider and cookies to bring in the holiday cheers!

A Grand Beginning

Over 350 people came to celebrate the opening of Clarion Music Performing Arts Center. Two stages and non-stop performances from 4 to 8 pm. This poem, medical received the following morning of the event, summarizes the evening:

In her voice Chinese is a song

In her song English is a flower
In her house music is a treasure
In this treasure community finds full bloom
Youthful exposition meets operatic expanse
Dead poets intermingle with live wires
Traditional instrumentation meets jazz implementation
Filling the hollows with haunts, chants and chance

by Moe Chi

List of performers and installation artists:

Benedict Lim, composer Symphonic Poem, The Rape of Nanking

Lewis Campbell, Cowboy Luigi  “A Very Old American Tale”

Carlos Zialcita, harmonica

Clyde ALWAYS “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service

David Wong, Alan Yip—Tranquil Resonance Studio Chinese music

Clara Hsu, poet Translation of “Poem in Memory of Dead Wife” by Su Shi

E.K. Keith, poet Interpretations of Silvia Plath

Francis Wong, saxophone

Genny Lim, poet

Hal Robins, poet “the Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe

Stephen Kent, didjeridu

Beth Custer, clarinet

Jennifer Barone, poet Dead Poets Society host

Laurie Weinstock, jazz vocalist

Mario Grillo, bass

Ryanaustin Dennis, poet

Sarah Vay Kerns, flute

Vismaya Lhi, Teatro Mistral

Dan Brady and Wendy Wolters, interpretive dance
Dan Brady
Wendy Wolters

Alex & Alice Benedict, 2.5 D gravestone animation

Kinetech Art, 2.5 D gravestone animation

Brent Benaway, artist silhouettes

Julia Benaway, photography

Georgina Manzo, artist Mexican Grave

Lori M Rillera & Kristy O’Brien The Questions Room & Day of the Dead Pillar

Maria Gonzalez, artist face painting

Marlene Aron, artist pastel painting on basement wall

Virginia Barrettwoman poet altar

The New Clarion

August 23, 2016

The New Clarion—Home of Music, Art, Theater and Poetry

Halloween Haunted House Grand Opening Gala

Durand Garcia, Clara Hsu and David Acevedo taking a break from painting.

“People’s eyes brighten when they hear about the Halloween Haunted House Grand Opening Gala,” said Clarion’s owner Clara Hsu. After a ten-year hiatus, Hsu bought back the San Francisco Chinatown business she created in 1981 to establish a cultural center where music, theater, art and poetry are celebrated.

To broaden and strengthen the existing piano and violin classes, Hsu invited blues and jazz harmonica player Carlos Zialcita, singer-songwriter Tommy Phan, soprano and voice coach Vismaya Lhi, and Chinese traditional multi-instrumentalist Alan Yip to give lessons and workshops. David Acevedo, director of San Francisco Theatre Company and Teatro Latino comes on board as the resident theater director. Actor, director and fight choreographer Durand Garcia will give theater workshops. An art gallery is in the works with artist Maria Gonzalez curating shows and teaching art classes.

San Francisco Poetry Open Mic Podcast TV Show has also made Clarion its home. Hosted and produced by John Rhodes, it is an ongoing video project to document the poets of our times. TV taping is done on every third Monday of the month at 6pm. There is an open mic after the featured readers and the shows can be seen on Chanel 29 and YouTube.

With limited funds but abundant enthusiasm, Acevedo, Hsu and friends are aiming for an outrageous Halloween Haunted House Grand Opening Gala to celebrate regeneration, creativity and the perpetual desire for beauty.     (photo of Durand Garcia, Clara Hsu and David Acevedo by Julia Hsu.)

For information on lessons and workshops go to

Clarion Music Center is located at 816 Sacramento Street (entrance on Waverly Place), San Francisco. Tel: 415-391-1317. Monday through Friday 1-5 pm, Saturday 9-5 pm

Poetry TV Taping Monday August 15, 6 pm

Rafael Jesus Gonzalez
Rafael Jesus Gonzalez


Bill Mercer
Bill Mercer’s painting

Featured readers for this session will be Rafael Jesus Gonzalez and Bill Mercer. The Poetry TV Show is produced and hosted by John Rhodes with co-host Clara Hsu. This program can be seen on Chanel 29 and U-Verse 99 every Thursday at 7:30 pm. Poet Stephen Kopel hosts Special Edition, which will be presented on You are welcome to join our open mike after the taping. Bring a poem!

Reading at Bird and Beckett


Sunday July 24, 2pm
Bird and Beckett Books
653 Chenery St in San Francisco’s Glen Park

Christopher Bernard presents his latest novel and poet Clara Hsu reads Chinese poetry in translation with David Wong on the guqin

Christopher Bernard will read from his new novel, Voyage to a Phantom City, described as a spine-tingling adventure across the Sahara and a heart-breaking romance, provoking haunting memories of war and a long-lost America after the tragedy of September 11th.

The novel is a spiritual quest into the heart of darkness that discovers the supremely redemptive power of love.

Christopher’s previous books include the novel A Spy in the Ruins, the short-story collections Dangerous Stories for Boys and In the American Night, and The Rose Shipwreck: Poems and Photographs. He is co-editor of “Caveat Lector” and a regular contributor to “Synchronized Chaos.”

He writes fiction, poetry, essays, plays, and criticism. His poetry can be found online at “The Bog of St. Philinte.” He lives in San Francisco.

David Yaji

Clara Hsu will read a set of translations of the poems by Xu Zhimo, accompanied by David Wong on the guqin (Chinese 7-stringed zither).

Chris and Clara would like to dedicate this reading to the memory of Adelle Foley, who passed away recently.

Clara Hsu is a poet and a traveller. She caught the travel bug some years ago and it has been feeding her ever since. When she is home she teaches piano and stays glued to the computer. When she travels she brings only a note book and pen. Between writing and cooking, her mind wanders like a nomad. When not wandering, she has long hosted a poetry salon, “The Poetry Hotel,” which has been a rich resource for the City’s creative writers.

Clara is now embarking on a voyage of a different sort, as she begins to reclaim the business long known as Clarion Music, in San Francisco’s Chinatown at the corner of Waverly Place and Sacramento Street, as a venue for the performing arts.  Established in 1981 by Clara and her father, James Ma, Clarion was long renowned as a place to find instruments of Asia, Africa…the entire world, and for the live music that happened there — in the teaching studios and performance space in the lower level.  Ten years ago, employees took on the business, but Clara is now returning to run the teaching studios and and to turn the street level of the shop into a venue that presents music, theater, art and poetry. It is to be a cultural destination in San Francisco. Many local musicians, artists, and producers have expressed interest in utilizing the space for performances, and Clara’s vision is to see Clarion transformed.  She left the business for poetry, and now she seeks to bring poetry back to the business. One of her intentions is to develop a distinctive collection of poetry to be presented at the shop; to make poetry the soul of Clarion while the music flows on.

by Eric Whittington

Looking for Piano Teachers

piano b.w

We are looking for pianists who are focused on teaching and dedicated in enabling students to appreciate music, not just in methodology, but as active listeners, to join our studios. The minimum requirement for the teacher is a music degree in performance or music education. Experience is helpful but not necessary. We will train.

Currently we have nine teachers teaching piano, violin and Chinese traditional instruments. Teachers organize at least one recital a year for their students. Sometimes field trips are arranged to expand students’ awareness in the arts.

If interested please call Clara Hsu at 415-244-1317 or send her an email at


SF Poetry TV Show at Clarion

At last, San Francisco Poetry Open Mike Podcast TV Show now has a home at Clarion Music Center. Producer John Rhodes and cohost Clara Hsu, together with Special Edition host Stephen Kopel welcomed poets and guests into the venue on Monday July 18. Stephen Kopel and Philip Zimmerman were the featured poets, and many joined the open mike afterward. The show will be broadcast on Channel 29 and the open mike will appear on youtube.