Concert for Nuclear Disarmament
This year, 2015, is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of A-bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. My friend Jin Hirata has been involved in the movement for a "nuclear-free world" for more than 20 years. He thinks that "this year is particularly important because this could be the last year when we can directly hear the stories of Hibakusha, a-bombs survivors, whose average age is now almost 80." This year, 40 hibakushas will visit 50 high schools in NY area and share their experience as survivors of nuclear weapon attack with hundreds of students. GH and I, together with DW and D, joined Jin at last night's concert for nuclear disarmament, "With Love to Hiroshima and Nagasaki," at the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
The concert began with a slideshow by Robert Croonquist chronicling the last seven years of the school visits program. Anne Klaeysen and Clifton Truman Daniel, the grandson of Harry Truman, the President who ordered the bombing, gave the welcome. Animation shorts by Amber Cooper-Davis punctuated the six movements of the concert.
1. Gratitude - Joanna Macy and Jean Rohr spoke.
2. The Manhattan Project - A slideshow displayed the various places around Manhattan in which the Project took shape. The Oppenheimers' apartment on Riverside Drive hosted secret meetings, etc. Most interesting to me is a "hibakusha" statue of a Buddhist priest now standing on Riverside Drive. Anne Waldman read a collage of poems (including Ginsberg), accompanied by Yasuaki Yamashita's saxophone.
3. The Moment - Shigeko Sasamori, a hibakusha, spoke. Paul D Miller aka DJ Spooky performed an excerpt from Miller's Peace Symphony, together with Sugar Vendil (piano) and Kivie Cahn (cello) of the Nouveau Classical Project. The symphonic excerpt was very interesting.
4. The Bomb Today - Setsuko Thurlow, a hibakusha, spoke. Masaaki Tanokura played on the Jogaquin Hibaku Violin, which survived the Russian Revolution, was damaged by the Bomb, and then restored. He was accompanied very ably by Tomoko Sawada. The musical work was very sentimental, however.
5. The Power and the Waste - Clifton T. Daniel (woodwind) and Sam Sadigursky (violin) displayed superb musicianship in playing together.
6. The Journey Towards Nuclear Guardianship - Joanna Macy spoke about going beyond banning nuclear weapons to stopping the mining of uranium and taking care of the waste products already created. and Tomihisa Taue, a hibakusha, showed a long piece of yellow cloth on which are written all the names of her dead schoolmates who were in the city center of Nagasaki when the bomb dropped. Then the Hibakusha Himawari (Sunflower) Choir, which flew from Nagasaki, sang two songs in Japanese. They were then joined by the vocal students from LaGuardia Arts High School to sing the Anthem for Nuclear Disarmament, composed by Jean Rohe. I thought the Anthem met creatively the challenge of composing for singers singing in two dffeerent languages.
Epilogue - PIKADON Project: live art projections on the Central Park Wall of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, created with the participation of New York City high school students.