Thunder of Drums Benefits Tsunami Orphans
Thursday, October 16, 7pm (doors open 6pm)
Michael J Fox Theatre
7373 MacPherson Avenue, Burnaby
Tickets available at the door:
General $20, Students/Seniors $10
Free for 3 years and under
Pre-purchase tickets: 604.250.9532
On October 16 at 7pm, the Michael J. Fox Theatre in Burnaby will play host to a special evening of Okinawan music, drumming and dance. Chimugukuru: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Orphan Benefit Concert will raise funds to benefit the Ashinaga Education and Scholarship Organization in Tohoku, the area devastated by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Presented by Vancouver Okinawa Taiko, the concert will feature special guest Okinawan artists Chijinshu Wakatiida and Hidekatsu.
The Bulletin spoke to Masami Hanashiro, a member of Vancouver Okinawa Taiko who is helping promote the concert.
Q. The earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku region of Japan in 2011 but you are still raising funds . . . where does the money go?
All the money we raise will go to support the programs at Tohoku Rainbow Houses, which are support centres for orphaned children. They were completed in the cities of Sendai, Rikuzentakada and Ishinomaki in March. The centres are run by the Ashinaga Education and Scholarship Organization. For the past 50 years they have been providing educational and psychological support to children worldwide who have lost their parents.
Q. You are calling the concert Chimugukuru. What does that mean?
In the Okinawan language it means compassion. However, we titled the concert, A Celebration of the Heart, Soul and Spirit. Chimu is closer to “soul” or “spirit” and kukuru is “heart” in Okinawan. We thought it ws a fitting title for the show.
Q. For readers who are unfamiliar with Okinawan music, who are Chijinshu Wakatiida and Hidekatsu?
Chijinshu refers to people who play taiko, and tiida refers to the sun in the Okinawan language. Chijinshu Wakatiida is an ensemble that performs eisa drum-dancing and Japanese wa-daiko accompanied by Okinawan music. Eisa drums are the Okinawan drums that are worn. Also, the group emphasize Okinawan lion dance and sanshin, a three stringed instrument resembling a bluegrass banjo. The members are a mix of ages, from youth to mid-fifties seasoned players who contribute to youth development through their taiko instructions. Chijinshu Wakatiida is known not only for its members’ sophisticated technical skills but also for its efforts in the preservation and legacy creation of Okinawa’s traditional performing arts. They are active in charity concerts and volunteer activities. Hidekatsu is an Okinawan musician, producer, and representative of Okinawan progressive sound from Taketomi Island in the southern islands of Yaeyama. He is best known for his beloved song Mirukumunari, which he released in 1993.
Q. What can audiences expect from this concert?
It will be amazing – overflowing with passion for life, creating bonds between different cultures. This is a rare chance to see these musicians in a wonderful concert hall. If you like taiko you will love this show. It is similar to the taiko you see in Vancouver but with some added twists.
Q. Anything you’d like to add?
When I saw an article on the tsunami orphaned children painting the wall of newly-completed Rikuzentakada Rainbow House, planting the seeds of soybeans and tomatoes in the planter of Ishinomaki Rainbow House and enjoying “nagashi somen” ritual I knew I wanted ti spoort their work. So much caring deserves to be supported. I believe that this place helps the children find the will and strength to overcome the challenges forced upon them by this disaster.