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ArtSEA: Gods, bods and power at Seattle Asian Art Museum

ArtSEA: Gods, bods and power at Seattle Asian Art Museum
Written by Publishing Team

On the darker side of delusions of grandeur: Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which two local organizations are commemorating with online concerts. Music of Remembrance, a group dedicated to remembering the Holocaust — and calling out other human rights abuses — through classical music, is presenting Art from Ashes (free, streaming now). This year’s lineup of all-new performances features solos, duets and choral pieces written by composers who were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps, including two beautiful tango works written by prisoners in Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

More stories of stunning perseverance will be showcased in Hours of Freedom (tonight, Jan. 27, at 7 pm; free with tickets). Presented by Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity, the streaming concert features works that composers wrote while imprisoned in the Terezín concentration camp. The event reflects two astonishing truths: that these compositions survived the camps, and that even amid horrific circumstances, the musicians were compelled to create art to be heard in the future.

We’re coming up on the anniversary of another painful legacy from World War II: Feb. 19 marks 80 years since Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which led to the incarceration of some 120,000 Japanese Americans in internment camps. The majority of those imprisoned were American citizens. The Seattle Symphony is marking the anniversary with a concert featuring original compositions by two Seattle-born composers.

The EO9066 program (at Benaroya Hall, Jan. 27 at 7:30 pm, Jan. 29 at 8 pm) starts with the world premiere of Beyond the Hills, by Japanese American composer Paul Chihara. He based the piece on his memories of the music he listened to while incarcerated with his parents in the Minidoka camp in Idaho, where they lived for four years.

Also on the bill is singer/songwriter/violinist Kaoru Ishibashi — aka Kishi Bashi — contemporaneous orchestral piece Improvisations on EO9066 was inspired by his visits to several historic internment sites. While his parents came to the US after the war, he says experiencing the locations in person helped him connect with his identity, as well as his understanding of how this history lives on today. His songs hum with compassion — and a hopefulness inherent to.

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