On the evening of March 1st, just 10 days prior to the anniversary of the catastrophic Tohoku Earthquake/Tsunami, beautiful soothing sound of the traditional Japanese music reverberated in the Yukon Arts Centre. The well-known Vancouver musicians, Takeo Yamashiro on Shakuhachi and Yuriko Nariya on Koto, performed solos and duets for the attentive audience of over 120 who gathered there.
The occasion was dubbed “Thank You, Whitehorse” Concert, and was sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver and organized by the Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon (JCAY). It was an opportunity for JCAY to express its gratitude for the tremendous support and generosity shown by the people in the community toward the fundraising activities a year ago. Thanks to the overwhelming local community support, JCAY was able to donate $40,600.38 directly to the Japanese Red Cross Society to aid the relief effort in northeastern Japan in a timely fashion.
Consul Isono, who accompanied the artists to Whitehorse, offered a word of gratitude to the people in the community at the beginning of the concert. He also brought a number of display panels to show the audience the recovery effort that is progressing in the disaster areas.
The audience was totally captivated throughout by the sound of the ancient Japanese music. After an enthusiastic applause following the final piece, many audience members came to the apron of the stage to see the unfamiliar instruments up close. They threw hoards of questions to the artists, who amiably answered all those questions before they packed up the instruments.
One audience member posted the following comment on the local ArtsNet the following day, which seemed to represent the feelings of the entire audience:
“Thank-you to Fumi Torigai of the Japanese Canadian Assoc. of Yukon and the Consulate General of Japan in Vancouver for a rare musical treat last night at the Yukon Arts Centre . Koto master Yuriko Nariya and Shakuhachi master Takeo Yamashiro held the audience enthralled for a two hour concert of six pieces ranging from the 17th century up to contemporary compositions. Hopefully the enthusiastic response of the audience will encourage all involved to bring more of this caliber of traditional Japanese music to Whitehorse in the future.”
It is apparent that the sharing of the beauty of Japanese traditional music not only serves the purpose of promoting the better understanding and appreciation of the Japanese culture among local populations, but also somehow helps bring people together and deepen our understanding of each other. These kind of events are undoubtedly conducive to building a community where people of different cultural background can call home and live together harmoniously.
Reported by Fumi Torigai