Commissioned by Music of Remembrance
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry – a majority of them American citizens – were forced to detention camps scattered across the western United States. French-American composer Christophe Chagnard, now in Seattle, will explore this painful chapter of history through the stories of individuals, families and artists based on their personal accounts, journals, letters and art works. Chagnard's multi-media work Gaman will tell much of this story through the imagery and words of two artists: Takuichi Fujii (1891-1964) and Kamekichi Tokita (1897–1948). Both emigrated to the United states and by the 1930s had become prominent artists with paintings included in major exhibitions. During the war, they were forced with their families to the Minidoka Relocation Center in Idaho, one of 10 geographically scattered detention camps where 120,000 people were incarcerated. Fujii and Tokita kept deeply expressive diaries that, along with their drawings and paintings from Minidoka, serve as powerful documentation of the Japanese-American wartime experience. The composition will combine traditional Japanese and classical Western instruments along with a narrator/singer, all combined with visual media projections.