Obituary: composer and political activist Fred Ho, 56

Posted on: April 14, 2014

In Sunday’s (4/13) New York Times, Ben Ratliff writes, “Fred Ho, a composer, saxophonist, writer and radical activist who composed politically charged operas, suites, oratorios and ballets that mixed jazz with popular and traditional elements of what he called Afro-Asian culture, died on Saturday at his home in Brooklyn. He was 56. The cause was complications of colorectal cancer …. Mr. Ho, who was of Chinese descent, considered himself a ‘popular avant-gardist.’ He was inspired by the Black Arts movement of the 1960s and by the ambitious, powerful music of African-American bandleaders including Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Sun Ra and especially Charles Mingus. But he rejected the word jazz, which he considered a pejorative term imposed by Europeans.” Born Fred Wei-han Houn in Palo Alto—he changed his name in 1988—Ho “attended Harvard University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in 1979.” Moving to New York in the early 1980s, he “formed the Afro Asian Music Ensemble and became associated with other Asian-American musicians ….” His works include the operas A Chinaman’s Chance; Journey to the West; Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey; and Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors.      

Posted April 14, 2014