Ganbare Japan! a benefit concert for Japan
On Tuesday, April 19th, Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre will play host to Ganbare Japan!, a concert to benefit the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters in Japan.
The concert will kick off with internationally-acclaimed pianist and Vancouver native Jon Kimura Parker who returns to Vancouver for this special engagement. Together with over forty members of the Grammy award-winning Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, he will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 27, K.595. Rounding out the first half of the show will be three member of Vancouver Opera–Erin Wall, David Pomeroy and Kinza Tyrrell–who are guaranteed to raise the hair on the back of our necks with a selection from La Traviata.
Kokoro Dance’s Jay Hiyabayashi and shakuhachi master Takeo Yamashiro, both longtime members of the Canadian arts community, will collaborate to create a unique performance that will take the audience through to the second half.
A who’s-who of local musicians, including Jim Byrnes, The Sojourners, Bill and Saffron Henderson, Doug and the Slugs, Simon Kendall and 54-40, along with some special guests, will start the second half of the show, joining forces to show their solidarity with the people of Japan in this time of crisis.
The evening will conclude with a unique collaboration between members of the Vancouver taiko community. Representatives from Chibi Taiko, Katari Taiko, Sawagi Taiko, LOUD, Sansho Daiko, Tetsu Taiko and Yuaikai Ryukyu Taiko, along with independent taiko players from the city’s vibrant taiko scene, will join together to raise the roof for the Japanese people. See special insert below for more details.
Reserved seating tickets are $35 / $25 seniors, students youth, with special Dress Circle seats at $75.
100% of tickets sales to benefit earthquake relief in Japan.
Tickets: all ticketmaster outlets | ticketmaster.ca | 604.280.4444
For more information contact BC JERF at 604-566-9597 or bc-jerf.ca
Taiko for Tõhoku – summoning a joyful thunder for Japan
It’s said that in ancient Japan, the size of a village was determined by how far away one could hear the village taiko, or drum. With Taiko for Tohoku, the grand finale of the Ganbare Japan! benefit concert at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on April 19th, the global village is about to get that much bigger!
Taiko for Tohoku is an unprecedented collaboration that brings together almost 60 taiko players representing Metro Vancouver’s nine taiko groups in a 20-minute tour-de-force that will be heard all the way to Japan.
Put together especially for this concert, Taiko for Tohoku is a truly intergenerational endeavour that reflects the development of taiko in Canada. The project is driven by many of the pioneers of Canadian taiko—drummers who helped shape this unique art form in its earliest days and continue to have an impact on its development. At the other end of the spectrum are the youngest members of the collaboration, who represent the next generation of taiko players. Junior members of Chibi Taiko and Yuaikai Ryukyu Taiko range in age from six to their early twenties and bring a youthful vitality and energy to what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Katari Taiko, Canada’s first taiko group, is represented by both current and former members, many of whom have gone on to professional careers. The most recent members of the Vancouver taiko community are represented by Sansho Daiko and Maru, an exciting new group that combines taiko with shakuhachi and other instruments to create a virtuosic blend of the very ancient and the very new. Maru features Eien Hunter-Ishikawa, a new and very welcome addition to Vancouver’s taiko family. The piece also includes member of LOUD, Sawagi Taiko, Tetsu Taiko and Uzume Taiko, Canada’s first professional taiko group. Independent taiko players Bonnie Soon, Leslie Komori and Boyd Grealy are invaluable members of the ensemble, bringing their years of expertise to the table and helping take the sound to a new level.
Taiko for Tohoku opens with a thunderous performance by Yuaikai Ryukyu Taiko, comprised of 18 members of the Okinawan diaspora. The song, Mirukumunari, is from Kohama Island, one of the most southern islands of Okinawa. It is a harvest song that shares the joys and gratitude of community living and wishes prosperity to all.
This is followed by an excerpt of an adaptation of Utsu Hachijo, originally composed by Japan’s Ondekoza. The composition takes its name from Hachijo Island, where political prisoners were once banished. Replacing their confiscated swords with bachi (drumsticks) the prisoners drummed and sang to express their longing for their home.
The finale to the Taiko for Tohoku collaboration is based on Ashura, a piece composed by Mas Kodani of Kinnara Taiko, a Buddhist group from Los Angeles. In Buddhist teachings, Ashura is the realm of the fighting spirit and the piece draws upon conflict, both internal and external, as its driving metaphor. As the piece reaches its thunderous climax, all the drummers unite on stage in a show of solidarity and strength, summoning the spirit of the drum and sending a message across the ocean: “Ganbare Japan!”
Taiko for Tohoku was conceptualized by a committee made up of John Endo Greenaway, Kayo Homma-Komori, Shinobu Homma and Eileen Kage and made reality over three nights of rehearsals in a true collaboration with all the drummers involved.
The committee would like to thank all the taiko groups and independent players, along with the parents of the Junior members, for the spirit of cooperation they have shown, and their unwavering support of this project.
We would also like to thank the National Nikkei Museum & Heritage Centre for the generous use of rehearsal space, Uzume Taiko for the use of its van, and Chibi taiko and Stratford Hall Taiko for the use of drums and percussion, along with everyone else who contributed instruments.
A special shout-out to Linda Ohama who has driven the entire Ganbare Japan! concert from the beginning with fearless optimism and spirit.