Road Stories Blog

Inspiring workshops in Bloomington, Illinois

Young woman stands, speaking on stage.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Eric Zeal and Brandy Maloney, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts (BCPA) staff, escorted us to every school we visited with hot water and green teas. The week went by fast. We went to see a B-52’s concert which was a blast, and Saturday some of us went to the magic show at BCPA, as well. All were generous invitations of BCPA.

Israeli tour begins

Israeli Ethnic Ensemble

By Lindajoy Fenley

Gorgeous autumn leaves, wonderful weather and friendly UP folks have made the beginning of the Israeli Ethnic Ensemble's tour spectacular. The weather is so unseasonably wonderful that we were able to hold our pre-tour meeting with program director Ken Carlson sitting around a picnic table in Presque Isle, a beautiful city-maintained park.

Keeping busy in Terre Haute, Indiana

In a TV studio, musicians shake hands with a man.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

The week in Terre Haute, Indiana started with such a nice reception at the home some Arts Illiana board members, a performance at the library, workshops at the elementary schools—our schedules were filled. We often feel a bit of tired, but no one ever complains. Beauty & Melody members are always willing and proud to show their music and culture. Community people, young or old, are also eager to lean Chinese culture and their music!

Every new community we visit something happens unexpectedly.

Beauty & Melody in Sandusky, Ohio

Two musicians watch as seated man plays an instrument in high school classroom.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We spent the week of September 20th in Sandusky, Ohio. It was sunny and warm; we were lucky to have such nice weather in the middle of September.

I visited the same schools and communities 6 months before with Agatsuma. I am back and glad to see the familiar faces again. The students, teachers and community people are just as I remembered—hospitable, thoughtful and appreciative.

Sightseeing in Chicago

The group poses in street clothes in front of the Cloud Gate sculpture.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

Beauty & Melody arrived in Chicago on September 14. Months and months of preparation for a concert at Harris Theater in Chicago unfortunately had to be canceled. This cancellation was disappointing, but we managed to keep ourselves busy and had fun.

Terre Haute, Indiana

Agatsuma plays shamisen while people watch at nearby cafe tables.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

When we started this tour in mid April, the first community was Marquette, Michigan, where we shivered in snow. It’s now early May and the weather is definitely warmer, the bright ray of the sun makes us squint. It’s almost too hot that we need to wear lightweight clothes.

Agatsuma in Bloomington, Illinois

Retirement home residents work musicians to play the instruments

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We arrived in Bloomington, IL Sunday April 25, our third week of Arts Midwest World Fest. With a population of 150,000, Bloomington, IL is the largest community so far in this tour. Two major universities, a large insurance company, and financial businesses are located here in Bloomington.

A week in Hartford, WI

Taiko workshop in a middle school gymnasium

By Shigeyo Henriquez

First 3 days in Hartford we had very early start 7 a.m., 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, April 19th, we drove 40 minutes to Silverbrook Middle school in West Bend. Rubbing our eyes, we set up the instruments in the gym. The bell rang, 400 students walked into the gym very excited and curious to hear Japanese music.

Missing Marquette

Dan Truckey and his son learn to play the taiko drums during a workshop.

By Shigeyo Henriquez

We left Marquette Sunday morning, feeling a bit gloomy like the weather in Marquette, over cast and 37º, but our memories of Marquette were warm and welcoming. People were appreciative and responsive to our music.

First workshop at Northern Michigan University, we were pleased and surprised to find the students and the professor had some great knowledge of Japanese culture and music.

Old Town School of Folk Music Review

The group poses outside the Old Town School of Folk Music.

By Bannon Puckett

Greetings! As a current Chicagoan, I was fortunate enough to see Agatsuma and company in the first concert of their latest U.S. tour, which I hear will take them around many of the Midwestern states and culminate in San Francisco.