Harry Aoki
Wind Song / Haida Dawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

This unique CD "Wind Song / Haida Dawn" produced by Harry Hiro-o Aoki a still-active 78 year old Nisei (Second Generation) who was among the 20,000 Japanese Canadians evacuated from their homes in the 1940s in a disguised agenda of ethnic cleansing. 20 musicians and several composers from all over the world contributed their talents for this project which was completed in 1998.

"Wind Song" is comprised of 13 tracks divided into three sections:

Preludes: The Sounds of Powell Street
Wind Song: A Musical
The Ethnic Cleansing of Japanese Canadians
The sections reflects the oppressive lives of the Japanese Canadians who were evacuated from their homes in 1942.

PRELUDES: THE SOUNDS OF POWELL STREET

From the late 1800s to 1942, Powell Street in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was the neighbourhood settled by most of the Japanese Canadians of that time.The koto and piano were instruments of choice for the young women of Powell Street.

The three tracks of this section features traditional compositions arranged by Aoki.

WIND SONG: A Musical

On February 24th 1942, the McKenzie King government issued order-in-Council PC 1486 forcing 20,000 Japanese Canadians living in the Vancouver area into exile. They were uprooted and 'dumped' on the sugar-beet farms of southern Alberta.

Track 4 was composed by Hiro-o Aoki. Tracks 5,6,7,8,9 & 10 were composed and arranged by Aoki, Cheryl Kuniko Cooney with Libretto by Carol Briosi-Maier. Aoki was a labourer in the sugar-beet farms of southern Alberta. The libretto was inspired by Carol Briosi-Maier's personal observations and experiences on her family farm in Alberta.

ETHNIC CLEANSING OF JAPANESE CANADIANS

Even after the war ended, the Japanese Canadians were clearly not wanted in British Columbia. The federal government sold all of their property to non-Japanese permitting unconscionable profits to be made. After depriving the Japnese Canadians of all their assets, the government then gave the Japanese Canadians two options. They could be deported to Japan or resettled East of the Rocky Mountains. Many evacuees moved to Ontario to avoid being "deported" to Japan. Initially they experienced hostility in finding accommodations and employment. Unexpected practical assistance came from members of the Jewish communites and the advice was given "go to the Jewish people...they will help you". This took place about the time that a shipload of Jewish survivors from Europe were repulsed from landing in Montreal, Canada. When Aoki spoke of this to New York clarinetist Johanna Hauser she impressed him with her simple answer, "of course, it is a mitzva, our LAW"

The three tracks of this section features traditional compositions arranged by Aoki.

PRELUDES: THE SOUNDS OF POWELL STREET

From the late 1800s to 1942, Powell Street in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside was the neighbourhood settled by most of the Japanese Canadians of that time.The koto and piano were instruments of choice for the young women of Powell Street.

The three tracks of this section features traditional compositions arranged by Aoki.

1. HA-YA-SHO (Hana Gasa) 1.40

In celebration for a bountiful harvest, the specific leaning of which is obscure within Shintoism, might have been in any of the ancient Altaic languages stretching from Finland, Turkey, Japan and from the Inuit peoples to their counterparts in Lapland. It expresses most satisfyingly some obscure but intuitive feeling and also serves to identify the enigmatic position of the Nisei who live within the hyphen of "Japanese-Canadianism" and the hybridity of society.

2. KOJO NO TSUKI 2.49

Virtuoso violinist Stephanie Griffin, recipient of the Lillian Fuchs award as a doctoral candidate at Julliard, while enroute from Tokyo to London was waylaid by the irrepressible Aoki to play this famous Japnese compositions by Taki Rentaro.

3. ROKU DAN NO SHIRABE 6.16
this sound file is an excerpt

Literally "Six Steps (of) Study" is one of the oldest known compositions in Japan. Teresa Kobayashi-Tabo performs on the silk strung KOTO.



WIND SONG: A Musical

On February 24th 1942, the McKenzie King government issued order-in-Council PC 1486 forcing 20,000 Japanese Canadians living in the Vancouver area into exile. They were uprooted and 'dumped' on the sugar-beet farms of southern Alberta.

Track 4 was composed by Hiro-o Aoki. Tracks 5,6,7,8,9 & 10 were composed and arranged by Aoki, Cheryl Kuniko Cooney with Libretto by Carol Briosi-Maier. Aoki was a labourer in the sugar-beet farms of southern Alberta. The libretto was inspired by Carol Briosi-Maier's personal observations and experiences on her family farm in Alberta.

4. TSUI HO (The Outcast) 1.10

The peaceful ambience of life on Powell Street was shattered by the Expulsion Order of February 24, 1942 issued by the federal government and carried out provincially. As a victim who was ordered to "leave with what could be carried" Hiro-o Aoki expresses his bitterness in this composition which came to him while labouring on a sugar-beet field.

5. CHERRY TREES 1.33

In the opening scene at a railway station, the confused evacuees sing "...nothing left...all is gone..."

6. CHILD LABOUR 3.16
this sound file is an excerpt

Undernourished, poorly clothed children as young as five and six had to work up to 12 hours daily for the sake of family survival. The children experienced fatigue, workplace hazards such as fingers amputated by topping knives and accidental drownings in irrigation canals.

7. YOKO THEME 2.22

Two cousins hopefully await their family's reunion "Soon all this sadness will end, we'll be together again..."

8. BEAUTY 1.51

The relationship between the teenage daughters of the landowner and tenant changes from hostility to friendship when they discover their shared artistic interest.

9. WINDSONG 4.17

A young teenager, sung here by Rhonda Newton feels a glimmer of hope during the Chinook winds of Alberta that foretell of the spring to come.

10. SOLILOQUY 4.05

A Zen priest reflects on the human condition. Dale Throness is the soloist. Psychologists have remarked on the mental resilience and endurance of the Japanese evacuees.



ETHNIC CLEANSING OF JAPANESE CANADIANS

Even after the war ended, the Japanese Canadians were clearly not wanted in British Columbia. The federal government sold all of their property to non-Japanese permitting unconscionable profits to be made. After depriving the Japnese Canadians of all their assets, the government then gave the Japanese Canadians two options. They could be deported to Japan or resettled East of the Rocky Mountains. Many evacuees moved to Ontario to avoid being "deported" to Japan. Initially they experienced hostility in finding accommodations and employment. Unexpected practical assistance came from members of the Jewish communites and the advice was given "go to the Jewish people...they will help you". This took place about the time that a shipload of Jewish survivors from Europe were repulsed from landing in Montreal, Canada. When Aoki spoke of this to New York clarinetist Johanna Hauser she impressed him with her simple answer, "of course, it is a mitzva, our LAW"

The three tracks of this section features traditional compositions arranged by Aoki.

11. SIM SHALOM (Bring Peace) 2.56

Despite government policy, many individuals offered help and encouragement to the evacuees. Sim Shalom has been included to acknowledge the kindness of those of like minds.

12. WEDDING DANCE 1.47

Aoki learned about Klezmer music from a Jewish musician born in India. It is now obvious that Aoki's experience touring for Overture Concerts and Columbia ARtists had expanded his musical and cultural experiences to a degree unimagined at the time of his evacuation. Wedding Dance is an example of artistic melding. Aoki challenges us to separate the Arabic, Jewish and Ukrainian contents of this piece and still retain the whole. The earthy unlady-like Klexmer played by Johanna Hauser (winner of the Andrea Goodman Award in New York) goes against all rules of orthodox classical clarinet playing!

13. HAKONE HACHIRI/AR TI CUEN 2.33

During the course of performances with Mary Murphy, harpist-singer from County Sligo, Ireland, Hiro-o Aoki was "noodling" on a Japanese "doina" (soul music). Behind him Ms. Murphy spontaneously joined in with an Irish lament. A performance of this so intrigued Prince and Princess Takamoto of Japan that they sought out the two artist to express their delight at the "unusual example of intercultural connections between peoples of the world."

"HAIDA DAWN"

Comprising the last 4 tracks of the CD, "HAIDA DAWN" is an account of how some Hebrew words and ceremonial rites came to be incorporated into the First Nations languages and religious practices west of the Rocky Mountains. It is also an interwoven web of historical fact and fiction. The distinctions may blur, but the physical presence of Jewish Traders in Kaifeng as well as Hebrew words in the native tongues, as discovered by linguist-priest Father Lejeune, are established fact. The rest is speculation and I leave it to you, dear listener, whether or not this story will in time, become a "truth"?????

PRELUDES: THE SOUNDS OF POWELL STREET
1. HA-YA-SHO (Hana Gasa)
2. KOJO NO TSUKI
3. ROKU DAN NO SHIRABE
WIND SONG: A Musical
4. TSUI HO (The Outcast)
5. CHERRY TREES
6. CHILD LABOUR
7. YOKO THEME
8. BEAUTY
9. WINDSONG
10. SOLILOQUY
ETHNIC CLEANSING OF JAPANESE CANADIANS
11. SIM SHALOM (Bring Peace)
12. WEDDING DANCE
13. HAKONE HACHIRI/AR TI CUEN
HAIDA DAWN
14. BUTTERFLY EFFECT
15. THE SEVENTH WAVE...TYPHOON
16. PACIFICA
17. HAIDA DAWN