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 Ceilidh Friends - EXPO2005


Articles written by Steve Goff, Caitlin Lacey, and Moira Cameron. 

| Hello from Japan | First Day At EXPO | EXPO2005 - a musician's perspective | EXPO2005 - a visitor's perspective |

| Hiroshima, a Place of Remembering | Hiroshima-60th Anniversary |


Hello from Japan (By Caitlin Lacey)

Yellowknife folkies, Ceilidh Friends (Steve Goff, Dawn Lacey, Moira Cameron and Steve Lacey) and I (official photographer Caitlin Lacey) made it to Japan on June 20th for Expo 2005.  The plane ride was almost 10 hours long from Vancouver.  I felt the humidity even before I got off the plane.  It made the ends of my hair curl and the rest of it stick to my scalp.  Wow!  This heat, combined with the humidity, is something that I am just not conditioned to deal with! 

Ceilidh Friends played a very successful first gig at the Global Commons 2 stage, located in the Americas section of Expo.  The Japanese are an extremely appreciative and responsive audience,

clapping and humming along with words they don't understand.  I saw a little girl, no more than two, dancing in circles to the music - just like in Yellowknife.

In the evening, the group played a private concert at the France/Germany Pavilion for staff of all the pavilions.  They shared the stage with other musicians from Bulgaria, the Ukraine, France and Japan.

So far, this experience has been incredible.  I had heard that Japanese people always walk in tiny steps because of walking in crowds all the time.  I have discovered that this isn't true.  But I had also heard that the Japanese are friendly, respectful people, which I have discovered is very true.    The crowds ARE

pretty intimidating, but the people walking are considerate of other pedestrians.  How many times have you been walking down the street in Yellowknife and were forced to step into the gutter because the people walking towards you wouldn’t move a little?  Doesn’t happen here.   Ever.  And there isn't very must jostling either.

The streets are incredibly clean and when you do come across a place to put your garbage, it is not just one garbage can, but SIX.  Everyone sorts the garbage so it can be recycled accordingly.  This happens inside each home as well.

In short, I think that the rest of the world could learn a lot from this culture!


First Day At EXPO 2005! (By Steve Goff, photo by Caitlin Lacey)

Still jet lagged from the ten hour flight from Vancouver, Yellowknife`s Ceilidh Friends played their first gig at EXPO 2005 in Nagoya, Japan, where countries from all over the globe present their culture, technology, arts and crafts to at least 100,000 visitors per day. After a quick sleep, then a tour of the Canadian Pavilion the next day, we did an afternoon performance on the open air stage at `Global Commons 2`, a street lined with colourful pavilions of the Americas, musicians and dancers from each country having a regular performance spot. Ceilidh Friends did their well known mixture of traditional and modern songs using a variety of instruments; Celtic to Renaissance, Country to Pop.

We played mainly up-tempo music and found that the crowd responded warmly to our unaccompanied harmony numbers.

Polite and curious at first, the largely Japanese tended to loosen up and clap along after a few numbers. As passers-by milled passed the stage, Rene Leblanc, the representative from OYE! Canada who helps run Canada's cultural program, passes out pins and promotional material from Canada, the GNWT, and the City of Yellowknife.

After the first of our daily open-air performances, we strolled through the huge EXPO site built with tasteful, predominantly wooden buildings set along separate streets, each grouping the pavilions of different countries of the world. Two huge Ferris wheels loom above the dome-like cocoon of the Japanese Pavilion - a structure built from bamboo. An elevated wooden

walkway connects the various sites, while high-tech, three-wheeled pedal driven taxis trundle past silently.

Later that night, we were asked to perform at a special party hosted by France and Germany who are sharing the same large pavilion. Musicians from several countries performed: a Japanese duo who performed at lightning speed on drum and traditional three-stringed guitar; singers and bagpipe players from Bulgaria; singers and dancers from Ukraine and Morocco; and a French ballad singer. Ceilidh Friends concentrated on Quebecois songs and instrumental pieces. The crowd kept growing and the audience was wonderful. We were proud and flattered to be the only act called back on stage to perform a second act, and were congratulated afterwards by Rene Leblanc and the staff at the Canadian Pavilion.

All in all, a good first day.


EXPO2005 - a musician's perspective (by Steve Goff, photo by Caitlin Lacey)

Music is an international language, and the fraternity that exists amongst musicians was emphasized again for me at Expo 2005. Just as each country’s language and economy varies, so does its music and dance – in astonishing variety – and yet a common thread links all.

While playing at the French/German Pavilion our first day at EXPO, Ceilidh Friends talked backstage with many musicians. I noted the intricate rhythms of a Japanese drummer, and how Bulgarian male singers stuck to a very old form of harmony rarely used now in the west. We formed close ties with a group of Ukrainian performers at that event, and later attended one of their performances at their pavilion, where we were invited on stage for a joint photo session.

Invited over to the Qatar Pavilion by its gracious host, Farouk al Mar, I sipped cardamom tea and listened to a virtuoso on the Arabic ‘Ud’, the beautifully

expressive instrument from which both the European lute and guitar were derived. On another day, during an appearance on a Nagoya TV programme, Ceilidh Friends met a dance troupe from Djibouti, East Africa, and through our common language of French, discussed our respective countries with their lead singer and drummer.

Back at EXPO, music is everywhere: the intricate harmonies and stylized theatrics of the energetic Maori singers and dancers contrasted with the precise choreography and costumed elegance of the Malaysians.

On Canada Day, a special celebration was planned on the giant EXPO centre stage, with its huge video screen and massive twin towers walled with hanging plants and wide enough at the top of each for a garden of trees. Ceilidh Friends were scheduled to appear with Shannon Thunderbird of Northern BC, hip-hop artist Keshia Chanté of Toronto, and jazz-rock-fusion singers Coral Egan and Jorane, both from Montreal.
It is the rainy season in Nagoya and the drizzle increased during our early morning sound check. By 11 a.m. the noon concert for Canada had been cancelled. Managers and musicians alike were disappointed, but met later that afternoon during a reception at the Canada Pavilion. The rain had ceased by that time, so it looked as if Coral Egan’s 1 hour scheduled show at the smaller Global Commons stage would go ahead.

Graciously, Coral invited the other musicians to share the stage with her.  We drew a bigger than normal crowd, and Coral’s kindness gave all of us our Canada Day concert after all, with a wide range of music in one hour.

This was a fitting tribute to the Canada Pavilion’s theme of the “Wisdom of Diversity” and underlined that the thread of music connects not just musicians but people as a whole.


Expo2005 - a visitor's perspective (Story & photo by Steve Goff)

In a forested site just east of Nagoya, Japan, sits the splash of sound and colour that is EXPO 2005: an international fair in which countries throughout the world present their art, science and technology. EXPO runs from spring until September, and this year's theme is "Nature's Wisdom."

The site itself is a mixture of ecology and high-technology. Most pavilions are built of wood and are clustered along streets or "Global Commons", each for a specific part of the world. A wooden aerial walkway connects these streets and three-wheeled taxis and high-tech, futuristic buses swish by silently. Most of this site will be returned to nature after EXPO.

The pavilion of each country expresses "Nature's Wisdom" in its own way. The Canadian Pavilion - choosing "Wisdom of Diversity" as its sub-theme - uses sound, video and multiple-projections on giant fabric

screens in film presentations of the variety in both Canada's land and people. Several interactive computer screens show the working lives and home cities of seven different Canadians, including Iqaluit's film maker, Kirt Ejesiak.

Some pavilions express "Nature's Wisdom" by showing the biological diversity of their lands: Central America (hosted by seven countries), where one walks through tropical trees to see Mayan artefacts; Mexico, using video, sound and photography to display forest, desert and artwork based on nature's themes; India, emphasizing the importance of trees in its culture and economy, using a video re-enactment of stories from folklore; Malaysia, with a replica of a limestone cave and displays of pharmaceuticals based on natural products.

Some pavilions are more than just a box: in Italy, one walks across an artificial lake; in China, the spectacular inner walls form one moulded surface - a giant piece of artwork depicting scenes of its history, art and culture.

The only overtly political message I saw was in the Disneyesque U.S. Pavilion, whose show piece was a screen Benjamin Franklin telling his audience that a better world would come now that his ideas of 'liberty' were spreading throughout the world. In my view, the U.K. Pavilion best captured the EXPO theme with interactive displays of technology inspired by nature:  fabrics which breathe based on the pine cone structure; low resistance surfaces based on shark skin; and adhesive surfaces based on the structure of a gecko's foot. Alternative energy is also a big theme with the Nordic, Russian, and U.K. displays of tidal power generators, and fuel cell shuttle buses cruising the EXPO site.

The centrepiece of EXPO, however, is the awesome Japanese area, where several companies have their own grant pavilions. Robot orchestras, mag-lev and futuristic concept vehicles, alternative universe displays, and other delights are possible to experience if you brave the hour-plus line-ups.

Being a working musician here on site, I have not yet found time for that - but here's hoping.


Hiroshima, A Place of Remembering (Story & photo by Moira Cameron)

At 8:15 a.m., on August 6, 1945, the world’s first Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  Almost exactly 60 years later, I had an opportunity to visit the historic city and see in person something I’ve heard about most of my life.   

Upon arriving at Hiroshima train station, I took a moment to look around me.  At first glance, it seemed like any other large city: vibrant, but neither special nor unique.  But past the tangle of skyscraper-lined busy streets is the Peace Memorial Park; an island of green in what was the ‘hypocenter’ of the Atomic Bomb. 

A streetcar deposited me at the Park’s northern tip, where stands the crumpled, twisted remains of a once impressive piece of architecture, now known as the “Genbaku Dome-mae” or Atomic Bomb Dome.  The building has been preserved as evidence of the terrible destructive power of the A-bomb.  When the bomb was dropped, it detonated 600 metres directly

above this building, killing everyone working in it instantly.  I was standing at ground zero. 

I felt a tremendous quietness wash over me as I walked around the A-bomb Dome building and through the Park.  At every turn, my eyes welled up with tears.  The Park was filled with statues and memorials.  Because of the impending anniversary, many statues were covered with thousands of multi-coloured origami cranes made by people across the country as a tribute to the hundreds of thousands who died.

I entered the Memorial Hall, a database of names and heart-wrenching testimonials built for the A-bomb victims.  I have always believed in the power of telling stories, but I have never heard stories more potent than those told by these survivors. Many were reluctant to relive such tales of horror, but in the end their determination that there be “no more Hiroshimas” convinced them to record their experiences.

Nowhere is the plea for Peace made clearer than at the Peace Memorial Museum.  Making its debut less than ten years after the bomb was dropped, the

museum reveals the decision-making process behind the dropping of the bomb, and the terrible and long lasting after effects felt by the survivors. 

I took my time, letting each exhibit imprint itself on my memory:  a child’s tricycle – twisted from the heat; a workman’s lunchbox – its contents turned to ashes; a student’s uniform – burned and tattered.  Some artifacts, like the correspondence between US officials leading up to the bombing, made me feel angry at the senselessness of it all.  Other exhibits, like the hundreds of telegrams sent by each Mayor of Hiroshima protesting the testing of nuclear weapons, gave me hope.

I left Hiroshima with a mixture of reactions: anger at the political posturing that created this evil; sadness for the people who had to live through it; and awe at what the citizens of Hiroshima have since accomplished.  I am grateful the survivors were longsighted enough to recognize that from their pain a lesson could be learned.

You can visit the ‘virtual’ museum on line:  http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/


Hiroshima-60th Anniversary (Story & Photos by Caitlin Lacey)

At 8:15 am, August 6, 1945, the world changed forever.  The first atomic bomb (the A-bomb) was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.  A few days later, on August 9th, the H-bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of these devastating events.  I was lucky enough to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum on July 6th.  It was a life-altering trip for me.  I have read and heard about the museum ever since I was probably about ten years old, and never really thought I would have

an opportunity to see it for myself.

Certainly the part of the museum that effected me the most was the special exhibition of drawings by A-bomb survivors (who are called “hibakusha“).  The terrible reality of the injuries, deaths and losses was brought into sharp focus by the memories of real individuals, many of whom were just children at the time of the bombing.  These drawings are available to the public and arrangements can be made to have them displayed anywhere in the world to help spread the message of peace.

Although the museum and park are specifically about the devastation of the 1945 bombings, they are also a call for peace to the whole world.  The monuments

and displays beg an end to all war, human suffering, genocide.  And as the John Lennon song says, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

No matter what your stand is on these controversial events of  WWII, the pain and suffering caused to people by people would touch you.  Although you may not ever have the opportunity to physically be at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima, you can visit the website at www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/ (click on “English” when you get there.)   You can also visit the Nagasaki website at http://www.city.nagasaki.lg.jp/peace/japanese/abm/


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