In February 1942, just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the evacuation of all persons deemed a “threat” to national security, the majority of whom were Japanese American citizens. Over the next six months, more than 100,000 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry were moved from the West Coast to guarded relocation centers known as internment camps. Two orchestras were among those marking the 80th anniversary of Executive Order 9066 this February. The Seattle Symphony performed Beyond the Hills, a commissioned world premiere by Japanese American composer Paul Chihara, which grapples with Chihara’s own experience with the incarceration. The program also featured Seattle Symphony musicians performing with Seattle-born multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Kishi Bashi in his Improvisations on EO9066. In the Benaroya Hall lobby, the orchestra presented a multimedia exhibit by filmmaker JJ Gerber in collaboration with Kishi Bashi telling stories of those impacted by Executive Order 9066, featuring oral histories and photography by Dorothea Lange.
In Colorado, the Denver Young Artists Orchestra performed with a taiko drum ensemble from the Japanese Arts Network, a national organization that celebrates Japanese arts experiences in America. The concert featured Luigi Morleo’s On Western Terror 8, an artistic critique of the legacy of Western colonialism. Denver Young Artists musicians and the taiko ensemble also performed the jazz tune “Sing, Sing, Sing,” arranged by Gary Tsujimoto, and the taiko song “Gendai Ni Ikuru” (“Living in the Present”).