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Haiku from Tashme (2022)


Haiku from Tashme is a set of short pieces composed for solo flute and choir. They are musical settings of six haiku written by Sukeo "Sam" Sameshima while he was forcibly interned in Tashme camp during World War Two among other Japanese Canadians. Soon after Japan declared war on the U.S., Canada and Great Britain following its attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Canadian government responded by exercising its War Measures Act and, all Japanese-Canadians were deemed to be enemies of the states and had to register with the Registrar of Enemy Aliens. They were stripped of their freedom, property and assets, and were required to move at least 100 miles inland from the Western Coast of B.C. Many of them were sent to internment camps such as the Tashme internment camp.

The haiku are chosen for the purpose of this project because they offer a rare glimpse at the mistreatment that happened recently in the history of Canada and that is often forgotten. It is these images recorded by first-hand witnesses that are aimed to be portrayed musically. The Nikkei museum holding the collection of haiku written by interned Japanese in Tashme have confirmed that all haiku written by the late Sameshima are in the public domain. The haiku used in this project have been translated from Japanese to French by Michel Montreuil, Maxianne Berger and Kimiko Horne. They are as follows.

1. Les gens partent / la fumée du tabac / et l'hivers restent

2. Calmement / quelqu'un entre / dans l'ombre de l'édifice

3. Montre enlevée / la fraicheur / de la brise du soir

4. À pas serrés je marche / le long de la ruelle / la clarté des étoiles

5. Fonte printanière / je remonte / le seau débordant

6. L'enfant sur mes genoux / s'est endormi / le feu brûle dans le poële

Below are recordings of some of the pieces premiered by the Schulich Singers under Ryan Doyle Valés.

Below are recordings by the First Readings Project.

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