JA Camp Survivors to Be Honored by Pasadena

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Top row, from left: Mary Kageyama Nomura, Carl Matthes, Yin Yin Huang, Grateful Crane Ensemble; bottom row, from left: Ling Yan, Cedric Berry, Min Jung Park, Serena Wang, Allisonne, Victoria Gu.

PASADENA — Japanese American camp survivors will be honored by the Pasadena Human Relations Commission at its 14th annual “Peace Through Music” concert to be held on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the First Church of the Nazarene in Pasadena.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry — two thirds of whom were American-born citizens — were forcibly removed from their West Coast homes and indefinitely detained in America’s concentration camps. Located in the badlands of America, these Americans and their immigrant parents spent up to three years locked up behind barbed-wire fences and surrounded by machine guns and guard towers. Today, the living survivors of these camps are in their 70s, 80s and 90s.

“This concert is for them,” said Soji Kashiwagi, Pasadena Human Relations Commission member and one of the concert’s organizers. “Through music and song, our goal is to pay tribute to them for everything that they endured, and hopefully bring some peace and healing to them for this terrible injustice.”

Nat Nedhar, an Iranian American who is chair of the commission and serving as the concert’s producer, feels very strongly that a message needs to be sent to the survivors, their families and the general public.

“I’ve been wanting to do this concert for several years now,” said Nedhar. “We want the survivors and their families to know that we honor them for what they went through, and we want to apologize to them for what happened. And to the general public, our message is that this cannot happen again to any citizen of our country.”

Held in the church’s spacious 1,400-seat sanctuary, the 90-minute concert will benefit Pasadena Human Relations Commission programs, with a portion of the proceeds going to Keiro Senior HealthCare.

Mary Kageyama Nomura, known as the “Songbird of Manzanar,” will be a featured performer, along with a diverse group of internationally known artists and local performers. The line-up of artists includes Carl Matthes, concert pianist; Yin Yin Huang, concert pianist; the Grateful Crane Ensemble’s Moonlight Serenaders; Noriko Hirao, marimba artist; Ling Yan, cellist; Min Jung Park, violinist; Cedric Berry, baritone; Yuki Mori, violinist; Allisonne, vocalist; Victoria Gu, ballerina; and Serena Wang, pianist.

The Pasadena Human Relations Commission is composed of dynamic community leaders with a strong commitment to reduce prejudice, violence, intolerance and hate crimes in Pasadena and neighboring cities. The commission promotes goodwill and equal opportunity within the community, and is responsible for providing understanding and knowledge to foster and appreciate acceptance of cultural differences and diversity.

The First Church of the Nazarene is located at 3700 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. General admission tickets for the concert are $20. Japanese American camp survivors are admitted free of charge, as well as students with proper school I.D.

Tickets may be purchased on the night of the concert at the door or can be reserved ahead of time by contacting Nat Nehdar at (626) 351-8680 or Soji Kashiwagi at (626) 840-8131.

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