REVIEW: Save Kogawa House Nov 12 Special Concert
The concert event went well today. About 100 people in the Alice
Mackay Room, at the Vancouver Public Library + CTV coverage.
Pretty good for very short notice.
The event started with Harry Aoki and Alison Nishihara playing
Pachabel's Canon on harmonica and piano. Then I welcomed everybody and
explained what the SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE committee was all about. I
also told people that we were very grateful for the Vancouver Opera
Touring Ensemble gifting us with a performance. I had seen
excerpts at a Roy Miki lecture, the Vancouver Arts Awards, and still I
had tears in my eyes when I saw performances on opening weekend and
just last week at the library.
Harry Aoki next talked about some of his experiences during the war
years, and afterwards at the sugar beet farms in Alberta. He next
played some pieces on his double bass that he wrote during that
time. A surprise dance performance by Toronto
choreographer/dancer Andrea Nann brought a spellbinding tone to the
music. Harry closed with a final piece on his harmonica that he
played while traveling in Romania and they asked for “Canadian music” –
a bit of a hoe-down.
Next up was artist Raymond Chow. We introduced the acrylic
painting that he has done for limited edition reproduction to help
raise funds for SAVE KOGAWA HOUSE (see
www.kogawahouse.com). This was the first day Joy had seen
the painting. Raymond spoke about how he was inspired by “Naomi's
Road” and the pictures to paint the old house with a 6 year old Joy
standing in front. I told how when Ann-Marie and I went to see
Raymond and the painting on Thursday that he had played us a short
rendition of a song based on the story. He then played “House of
Joy” for the audience.
Introducing the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble, I told the audience
that they had just returned from Vancouver Island playing an amazling
show of Naomi's Road in Uculet, and also in Campbell River and other places + a
standing ovation on Denman Island.
The room filled with song from the voices of Jessica Cheung, Gina Oh,
Sam Chung and Sung Chung. The audience sat rapt in attention, as
the story unfolded. The singers coming up to their 30th
performance, as fresh and as exhuberant as each time I have seen
them. I am getting familiar with the songs and story, and still –
I am amazed at the staging, the acting and the performance.
Everybody does such as good job.
The applause was healthy and the cast was called back for more
bows. I then told the audience that it was easy to see why if
Obasan was the book every Vancouverite should read, then Naomi's Road
was the book every Vancouverite should see. The audience
responded very positively when I asked them “Do you think every Canadian should see Naomi's Road?” Again, I invited
people to tell all their friends about Naomi's Road, and about Kogawa
House, and that we were accepting donations at the back.
I invited the cast back as well as our earlier performers so that
Ann-Marie could give each person a gift. I named them each –
Gina, Jessica, Sam, Sung, David, Angus, Harry, Andrea, Raymond and
Alison. Next, I invited Joy to say a few words. There were tears
in her eyes, as she said “There are no words to describe how happy I am….
To the Vancouver Opera Touring Ensemble, Joy said “Everytime I see you perform, I am amazed. It is so wonderful.”
She looked at Jessica, and said “You're e-mail mentioned how the opera
is healing for some people. You're absolutely right….
Everything that is happening. It is all so wonderful.”
People lined up to buy books at the back and have them
autographed. People lined up to talk with the performers.
One person came up and talked with Ann-Marie and myself about having
Naomi's Road staged at a Heritage Site and splitting 50/50 with the
Save Kogawa House campaign.
It was a good day.