Here’s a great documentary about interracial marriage and families… by my friend Jeff Chiba Stearns . We featured a special edit at the 2011 Gung Haggis Fat Choy Robbie Burns Chinese New Year Dinner – which in turn inspired the creation of the Hapa Palooza Festival in Vancouver, created by another friend Anna Ling Kaye. Watch now: One Big Hapa Family | Reel NW | KCTS 9 Video video.kcts9.org Japanese-Canadian filmmaker ...Read more
Wow… so many people have been saying that Vancouver Opera’s current production of Tea: Mirror of Soul, composed by Tan Dun, is a must see. The visuals are stunning. The music is compelling. The topics of love, family, guilt, loss, death are standard in many operas. But combined with a unique blend of Chinese music and story that includes references to the Monkey King, and the art of tea ceremony, this opera pushes and challenges bo...Read more
When we started the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, we asked author Joy Kogawa, what kinds of writers she would like to see at the house. She answered “Writers of Conscience.” On May 1st, we will welcome our 5th writer-in-residence, since helping to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home from impending demolition – A house that was “confiscated” from her family and sold, while her family was locked away in an int...Read more
Naomi’s Road at West Vancouver Library is great… looking forward to April 23 at Italian Cultural CentreApril 22, 2013
Erica Iris and Hiather Darnela-Kadanoga play Obasan and Naomi, in a scene when the family leaves Vancouver on a train. I saw the production at West Vancouver Library on Friday April 19th, and we both really enjoyed it. Sam Chung returns as Stephen. The new singers are all good. Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga plays Naomi, Erica Iris plays the 3 roles Mother, Obasan and Mitzie. Henry Chen plays Daddy, Bully, Rough Lock Bill, Trainmaster. I saw the orig...Read more
More than 50 seniors attended the AGM of the Head Tax Families Society of Canada, held Saturday April 20 at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver. Many spoke in Cantonese, as they are the surviving sons and daughters of the original head tax payers who came to Canada before the Chinese Exclusion Act banned immigration. Some were born in Canada, but many had been born in China, and were separated by the Exclusion Act until after 1947, ...Read more
Wow… so many people have been saying that Vancouver Opera’s current production of Tea: Mirror of Soul, composed by Tan Dun, is a must see.
The visuals are stunning. The music is compelling. The topics of love, family, guilt, loss, death are standard in many operas. But combined with a unique blend of Chinese music and story that includes references to the Monkey King, and the art of tea ceremony, this opera pushes and challenges boundaries on many levels. The most striking is its use of water, paper and rock as musical and visual themes. There are large water bowls on each side of the stage, and musicians hit, slap or drip the water to create a fascinating aural soundscape. Paper is used as visual forest for scenery, or it is hit with drum sticks to create thunder, or rolled to create thunder. As well the opera chorus holds sheets of paper and uses it like percussion, complimenting the orchestra.
Nancy Allen Lundy has played the character of Lan in every production of Tea: a Mirror of Soul.
This is the setting for the exquisite singing, that is a blend of traditional classical opera and Chinese opera. American soprano Nancy Allen Lundy, performs Lan. She is the only artist to have ever played this role in productions around the world. She sings like a bel canto bird on some songs, while on others she bends her notes like in Chinese opera style. It is different for ears accustomed to Western opera – but it is exciting that Vancouver Opera would mount this production. Find out more about Nancy Allen Lundy from the Opera Blog
It’s also a perfect blend for the cultural diversity of Vancouver. Much is made of Vancouver’s large Chinese population, as well as the local music scene which features lots of cultural fusion artists such as Silk Road Music, Orchid Ensemble, and even Mozaico Flamenco – which performed a full scale of Cafe de Chinitas this past weekend.
Tan Dun is more well known in North America as the composer of the soundtrack for the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. I loved both the movie and the music which featured cello superstar Yo Yo Ma. Ten years ago, I witnessed Vancouver Opera concertmaster Mark Ferris perform Tan Dun’s “Crouching Tiger Concerto for Cello and Chamber Orchestra” with the CBC Radio Orchestra- with featured Chinese erhu virtuoso George Gao http://www.tandunonline.com/compositions/Crouching-Tiger-Concerto. It was amazing.
The opera opens with the main character Seikyu, a former prince now a monk in Kyoto Japan, performing a ritualistic tea ceremony. He sings of bitterness, and the monks ask him why. Then then begins to tell a story of ten years past when he was in China, and in love in the Princess Lan. The action then shifts to China, as the sets seem to magically transform.
But this opera is more than just the music. There are so many levels of story,
The opera runs again on Thursday May 9th and Saturday May 11th, start time is 7:30pm. Don’t be late or you will miss opening preamble and musicians walking up the aisles.
This review – is still in process – check back for more!
Watch these videos about Tea: A Mirror of Soul – posted by Vancouver Opera on youtube.
When we started the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society, we asked author Joy Kogawa, what kinds of writers she would like to see at the house. She answered “Writers of Conscience.”
On May 1st, we will welcome our 5th writer-in-residence, since helping to save Joy Kogawa’s childhood home from impending demolition – A house that was “confiscated” from her family and sold, while her family was locked away in an internment camp for “Enemy Aliens” during WW2. Joy was six years old at the time, and had been born in Canada. No Japanese-Canadians were ever charged with a crime.
I think that our four writers previously: John Asfour (Montreal), Nancy Lee (Richmond), Susan Crean (Toronto), Deborah Willis (Victoria), have all brought social issues to the forefront. They have shared their stories, the work of other writers, and have also assisted writers.
Here is the release from PEN Canada:
Historic Joy Kogawa House residency awarded to PEN Writer-in-Exile Ava Homa
TORONTO, April 30, 2013 /CNW/ – Kurdish Iranian author Ava Homa , a PEN Canada Writer-in-Exile, has been chosen as the next writer-in-residence at Vancouver’s Historic Joy Kogawa House. Homa’s three-month residency, funded by the Canada Council Residency Program and the British Columbia Arts Council, will begin on May 1, 2013, and focus on writing, research and community programs.
The Historic Joy Kogawa House Society is a community-based arts group that supports a writer-in-residence on a volunteer basis. Set in the former home of the author Joy Kogawa , the program seeks to foster a wider appreciation of Canadian literature within the communities of Metropolitan Vancouver. Homa will supervise creative writing workshops, consult with emerging writers and use the time to complete a novel about immigration, displacement and culture shock – themes germane to the fiction of Joy Kogawa and to the mandate of the Historic Joy Kogawa House Society.
Born and educated in Iran, Ava Homa holds an MA in English Language and Literature from the University of Tehran and an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Windsor. In 2010 TSAR Publications published her debut collection of short stories, Echoes from the Other Land, which was subsequently chosen as one of ten People’s Choice finalists in the 2011 Canada Reads competition.
Homa’s short fiction and translations have appeared in several English and Farsi journals and newspapers, including The Windsor Review and The Toronto Star. Homa has been a member of PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile network since 2011 and was the 2012 PEN Lecturer-in-Residence at George Brown College
PEN Canada is a nonpartisan organization of writers that works with others to defend freedom of expression as a basic human right, at home and abroad. PEN Canada promotes literature, fights censorship, helps free persecuted writers from prison, and assists writers living in exile in Canada. PEN Canada’s Writers in Exile program helps authors and journalists who have been silenced in their country of origin to establish themselves in Canada.
Historic Joy Kogawa House is situated in the former home of the Canadian author Joy Kogawa (born 1935), where she lived until age six. It stands as a cultural and historical reminder of the expropriation of property that all Canadians of Japanese descent experienced after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Between 2003 and 2006, a grassroots committee fundraised in a well-publicized national campaign and, with the help of The Land Conservancy of BC, a non-profit land trust, managed to purchase the house in 2006.
SOURCE PEN Canada
I saw the production at West Vancouver Library on Friday April 19th, and we both really enjoyed it. Sam Chung returns as Stephen. The new singers are all good. Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga plays Naomi, Erica Iris plays the 3 roles Mother, Obasan and Mitzie. Henry Chen plays Daddy, Bully, Rough Lock Bill, Trainmaster.
I saw the original production in 2005/06 five times and enjoyed it immensely. West Vancouver Library isn’t the best place to the performance because lighting was not the best, and the performer’s faces were often in shadows. Close to 50 people came to the library for the free performance.
The performances by all singers are strong, and the storyline is strong. Watching the perfomers, we were amazed at both the choreography of the movement on stage, as well as how the small versatile set is used and moved to simulate so many scenes: Powell Street, Living Room, Train, Internment Camp. There were tears in my eyes as I watched the pinnacle scene of the opera. It makes a powerful statement against racism and bullying.
Tickets are still on sale for Tuesday’s April 23 performance.
There will be a limited number of tickets available at the door.
More than 50 seniors attended the AGM of the Head Tax Families Society of Canada, held Saturday April 20 at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver. Many spoke in Cantonese, as they are the surviving sons and daughters of the original head tax payers who came to Canada before the Chinese Exclusion Act banned immigration. Some were born in Canada, but many had been born in China, and were separated by the Exclusion Act until after 1947, when the Act was repealed, and families could be reunited. Several of the seniors came up to me to say hello, commenting they hadn’t seen me for awhile.
Standing with my friends for a just and honourable redress. I am a descendant of 3 generations of head tax payers: My maternal great grandfather Ernest Lee, my grandfather Sunny Mar, and my paternal grandmother Wong Sze.
Naomi’s Road cast came for a visit to Historic Joy Kogawa House on Thursday.
They were delighted to see the home and cherry tree where the characters of Naomi and Stephen grew up.
Myself, and fellow Kogawa House board members Deb and Joan, join the cast + pianist + stage manager. L-R, Todd, Deb, Baritone Henry Chen, Soprano Hiather Darnel-Kadonaga, “Joy”, Mezzo-Soprano Erica Iris, pianist Candy Siu, stage manager Melania Radelicki, Joan, and tenor Sam Chung.
Really looking forward to their Vancouver performance on Tuesday April 23 at Italian Cultural Centre. Tix are going quickly. www.italianculturalcentre.ca/highlights/Naomi’s-road/
35 people from Vancouver Opera came to Kogawa House including graphic designers, set builders, publicist, finance officer, and representatives from the volunteer Opera Guild.
General Manager James Wright, who had originally came up with the idea of turning the children’s novel Naomi’s Road into an opera. He shared the story about reading Great Canadian Books of the Century by Vancouver Public Library, and being inspired by the synopsis/review about Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan.
I shared how in September 2005, that Ann-Marie Metten had called me with the information that a demolition permit had been applied for for 1450 West 64th Ave, the address of Kogawa House. At the time, Naomi’s Road opera was just about to launch, and the Vancouver Public Library was just wrapping up its One Book One Vancouver program that featured the novel Obasan, and Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop was awarding its Community Builder Award to Joy. It was an amazing intersection of celebrations of Joy Kogawa’s works, and it all helped to draw attention to saving Historic Joy Kogawa House from possible demolition.
It is indeed amazing how things come full circle.
I have now met 6 doctors in 7 days regarding the ulcer on my right cornea + talked to another on the phone on Sunday. Today I met Dr. Joe and he is a former competitive dragon boater! And I also met Dr. Anderson, whom I think is the senior ophthamologist. And… Dr. Silver checked me out again too!
Good news is the ulcer is healing, and only 1/2 a millimeter in size now – so I can stop the drops that dialate my pupil. Ended the day playing music and drinking scotch with my friends – The Black Bear Rebels Ceilidh Ensemble. We dedicated “Farewell to Nova Scotia” to Rita McNeil, and toasted to her
Today, we saw a big harbour seal lazily swimming on the water in front of our dragon boat in False Creek, just off David Lam Park. I called “let it ride” and the paddlers stopped paddling, and I softly said “Quiet” to the team… as the boat glided quietly… right past the seal… until it was 5 feet away from the boat… When our mid boat reached it, it slowly swam away on the surface… to about 20 feet distance… then dived. It must have been sleeping on the surface… The closest and longest look, I have seen a habour seal from a dragon boat in 20 years of paddling.
Too bad we didn’t have a camera handy… but in June 10, last year, a seal was following our boat, and nipping at the steering oar… These pictures are from our June 2012 photo set
Ugh… I have an ulcer on my cornea. It is kind of crazy that I saw 3 different doctors today. I spent much of the afternoon and evenings visiting my GP office at 2pm, LGH Emergency at 4:30pm, then at the VGH Eyecare Clinic at 8pm. The above picture is from August 2009 when I had a corneal abrasion - thought possibly due to sand/grit from hanging out at Kalmalka Beach in Vernon, during a wind storm.
My regular doctor was all booked up so I saw her office partner Dr. Yam. After putting some dye on my eye, she thought I might have a “tear” on my cornea, so she sent me to emergency. At Lion’s Gate Hospital, I saw Dr. Andolfatto, who confirmed there was something wrong on my eye, and made an 8pm appointment for me to go to the Eye Clinic at VGH, where I saw Dr. Silver who made the final diagnosis. Nice to know we have a great healthcare system that can set me up with an ophthalmologist at 8pm on a Friday night.
Well.. if it was a stomach ulcer… I wouldn’t be able to drink any alcohol. But since I have an eye patch, and the ulcer is on my eye… I can have a shot of Captain Morgan for every drop of anti-biotics that I put in my eye… which is each hour.
LESSON LEARNED: update contact lens solutions, don’t leave lens in eyes for too long… otherwise corneal abrasion or ulcer will develop. “Deep ulcers extend into or through the stroma and can result in severe scarring and corneal perforation… This type of ulcer is especially dangerous and can rapidly result in corneal perforation, if not treated in time.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corneal_ulcer