Wadaiko Rindo

March 26, 2011

Tuesday night I attended my third fundraising event for Japan so far—a benefit concert held by Melbourne taiko group, Wadaiko Rindo. It was held in their usual practice venue, St Philips Anglican Church in Abbotsford. When I arrived there was standing room only, and they eventually had to open up more folding doors and turn pews about face as the audience continued to swell. The audience was made up of Japanese and Australians, from toddlers to grandparents so the atmosphere was very much a family one.

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The program for the evening consisted not only of traditional taiko drumming, but performances by flute and drumming trio Fuefukuro (albeit, missing one member who was back in Japan), extraordinarily talented shamisen musician Noriko Tadano who did both a group performance with the Shamys (Tsugaru Shamisen) and a solo performance, and koto player Yoshie Takahashi whose great skill created music that sounded like a harp, a guitar, and everything in between.

Noriko’s solo shamisen performance was a traditional piece from Fukushima but before her solo, Noriko gave a poignant speech to the audience about her family. She is from Fukushima and told us how hard it was not to have contact with them. They were finally able to talk on skype and she could see her grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. The worry was etched on her face, very different from when I last saw her perform with George Kamikawa at the Japanese Culture Festival in November 2010 (the two can often be seen playing blues together on Bourke Street. But she also spoke of the support she had received in Australia and how it kept her going. It is heartening to hear.

Of the fundraisers I have been to the tallies so far are:

Japaneasy market: $8,326

Donations are going to Consulate-General of Japan in Melbourne (Japan Disaster Relief Fund) and New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal.

Horse Bazaar: $5,472

Wadaiko Rindo: $9,500

Contributions are going to the Japanese Red Cross.