Road Stories Blog

Aberdeen, SD

Drumming workshop in a school gym

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Week three of the tour is in Aberdeen, SD. This is my third visit to Aberdeen. First time was with Bamboo Orchestra 8 years ago and then the fall of 2009 with Beauty & Melody. I've worked with Stacy Braun, Aberdeen Area Arts Council, on all three visits. Familiar city and knowing the contact person made the work easier. The weather was good and everything went smoothly.

Photos from Alexandria

By Shigeyo Henriquez

A snowy prairie

We left Knoxville early Sunday morning. As we drove north, we started to see snow on the ground. By the time we arrived in Alexandria, MN it was covered with several inches of snow.

Ensemble posing at a snowy park

Burrrrr…….. WOW!!! It’s cold outside. Did we bring warm enough clothes?

Knoxville, Iowa

Donation jar on the shop's front counter

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The day we arrived in Knoxville it was 70˚—warm and sunny. We received a warm welcome by the people gathered at Peace Tree Brewery. I recognized the same friendly faces from my first visit to Knoxville last fall with Beauty & Melody.

At Peace Tree Brewery they had a donation box for the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief. Contribution boxes are found everywhere in town. We are so touched to see people’s concern and participation to help & support. 3M Corporation is even offering one-to-one match to all US employees up to $500,000.

A great week in Knoxville, concert this weekend in Alexandria

By Arts Midwest

A great story and some video of last Friday’s Agatsuma Ensemble concert in Knoxville, Iowa is up on the website of local radio station KNIA/KRLS.

Local Residents Enjoy Agatsuma and Donate to Japan Relief

Arrival in Des Moines

Ensemble posing in hotel lobby

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Almost one week has past since the biggest earthquake, the 40’ tsunami and the nuclear disaster horrified not only people in Japan, but throughout the world. Agatsuma Ensemble, leaving their families and friends at home, arrived in Des Moines as scheduled while the country still tremors.

Help us raise $5,000 for relief efforts in Japan

Help us raise $5,000 for relief efforts in Japan

By Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest has long been a supporter of cultural exchange between the United States and Japan. This year, our Arts Midwest World Fest tour of the Japanese Agatsuma Ensemble coincides with the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

We encourage you—our friends, families, donors, and partners—to make a contribution to the relief effort. All donations will go directly to the American Red Cross.

Todah and Shalom

Woman walking along a curved path into the sunset.

By Lindajoy Fenley

The Israeli Ethnic Ensemble began most of their workshops this year teaching students two words in Hebrew—Shalom, a word meaning hello, goodbye and peace, and todah, thank you.

The Joy of the Sabbath

By Lindajoy Fenley

One morning at breakfast at our hotel, Wes Anderson, curator at the Barnes County Historical Museum, mentioned that a local Jewish immigrant had once tried to create a New Israel in North Dakota. Believing few Jews live in the region, I found Anderson’s comment intriguing.

Sefi’s slogan: ‘Let’s party’

Sefi displays his oud, a stringed instrument with a round back.

By Lindajoy Fenley

“Would you like a Greek party? … a Balkan party? … a Middle Eastern party?”

Midwestern children at the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble’s workshops shout “yes” as Sefi Asfuri Hirsh picks up his bouzouki with intricate mother of pearl inlay for Greek sounding music and Talya Solan sings Hebrew lyrics.

Fun at final workshops

Smiling musicians give a thumbs up.

By Lindajoy Fenley

When I heard a Jefferson school third grader listening to the ensemble’s sound check say their music sounded both Egyptian and Indian, I knew the last workshop of the tour was going to be good. The kids were primed for it and so was the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble. The only thing left on the ensemble’s itinerary were two classroom conversations at Valley City State University, a short musical presentation at the Sheyenne Care Center on Friday, and their final concert on Saturday, Nov. 13.