Rice Song - A wider love story / by Melanie Ida Chopko

Recorded and filmed live at Maybeck Studio for the Performing Arts, Berkeley, CA on December 4th, 2016

I wrote Rice Song a few years ago, after reading about thousands of Chinese people uprooted by a forced modernization project. But now, on this Valentine’s Day, it seems important share this one story as one of many wider love stories, the love I see in the faces of the immigrants I know when they speak of their homeland. It’s a relationship with place that remains long after their departure, even if leaving the land of their ancestors for food or safety or work was the most logical thing to do.

Their stories also tell a piece of mine - not just as a granddaughter of immigrants, but my own need to build a life alongside vast open spaces and the rhythms of the natural world. To learn from the traditions of my ancestors, and in turn, know and preserve this place.

This video piece was created alongside the genius of filmmaker Kevin Dorman, editor Manon Rudant, co-producer Isidro 'CiD' Pineda, and engineers Morgan Maudière and Gordon Allen. Special thanks to Jack Eastman at The Maybeck Studio, Mariam El Quessny, Motaz & Taha Attalla, Moorea Dickason, Rachel Efron, Katie Walker, Carl Oser and Pete Weiss for all the equipment, late night phone calls, and the early morning eye-makeup bonanza.