Final week in Valley City, ND

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The week began with a reception held at the house of the president of Valley City State University. We were treated to a home cooked early Easter dinner, served on fine porcelain dishes with real silverware.

The last concert was at the Health Activity Center of Valley City High school. After the concert, Wes Anderson from the Bridges Arts Council received this email from one of the audience members.

“Thank you and the Bridges Arts Council for the exquisite music last evening. They were amazing. Agatsuma and his group were truly professional musicians of the highest caliber. And they were able to engage everyone. It was wonderful for James and I to have a few moments to take our minds off the flood.”

The Cheyenne River runs through Valley City and the water level on the river is reaching record highs. The town is on 24-hour watch. Most of the bridges are closed, and only a few are open for traffic. The National Guard is here to protect the levee and they are constantly piling more clay and sandbags on the dykes. The dirt-loaded trucks run through the town 24 hours a day.

15% of the proceeds from this concert will be donated to Arts Midwest’s Japan Relief fundraiser. Especially because Valley City is also in the midst of a flood crisis, this genuine generosity is very much appreciated by us and by people in Japan.

I have so many memories from this wonderful tour…

One boy in a workshop was watching Agatsuma play shamisen. He was totally trapped in the shamisen world, moving his hands and fingers like Agatsuma striking through the strings. A child next to him poked him, but he didn’t feel it and continued to jam his fingers. He will be a musician someday.

The cultural exchange program at it’s best when I saw Hase and Okada sit in the drumming circle of Native Americans, playing the drums with Red Lakes leader… improvisation of Agatsuma ensemble playing blues and jazz with students. Arts Midwest World Fest truly provides for these wonderful opportunities.

Three people dressed nicely post together at the dinner table
Agatsuma, Katie and Okada enjoy the dinner. Okada holds his hands together before the meal--a custom in Japan.
Two men playing instruments--one, a shamisen, the other an electric guitar.
Workshop/lecture at Valley City State University. A music teacher jams with Agatsuma.
Ensemble members watch a high school band practice.
Today we are the audience and listening the band practice at Valley City High.
Musicians on stage while children watch in foreground
Final week of the Arts Midwest World Fest tour and final workshop at Valley City High

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