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November 13, 2011

Salt Spring is Following Me

Bill Henderson entertaining at the Salt Spring Fall Fair 2011

Yesterday was a bit of a strange day of synchronicity related to Salt Spring Island even though I've moved back to the Lower Mainland about a week ago.

It was ugly out there. Rain beating down. Typical November. I went out to get a few groceries and stopped in at a local Thrift store to see what treasures might exist within it. As I was standing there, I heard a familiar voice behind me and turned around to see a Salt Springer. What is the chance of that? I had met her while working at the CARE Employment Centre and she was a gardener who had been having difficulty with her hands and needed to transition into a different type of work. Apparently she has now trained as a Veterinary Assistant. She often comes to New West to bring her daughter to see her ex husband. I thought that was really strange to run into someone from SSI in a tiny Thrift store in New West a mere week after I'd left. I'm sure I was just staring at her strangely as she talked to me.

Then, last night, I went with Gwen to listen to the Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra putting on a performance with the Laudate Singers to honour the 10th anniversary of Orchestra's existence. The orchestra is led by Moshe Denburg, a man I met more than 10 years ago when I was writing a story for the now defunct Shared Vision magazine about the first ever Sacred Music Festival in Vancouver. At that time, I met with him in his townhouse off of Fraser Street and the Intercultural Orchestra was just a dream that was about to come to fruition and hold its first performance.

There is something so fascinating about watching musicians from different cultures playing instruments from those cultures such as India, China and the Middle East  (Dizi, Erhu, Oud, Pipa, Santur, Sitar, Tabla, Tar, Udu, Xiao, Zheng) combined with those, such as violins, the harp, penny whistle, bass clarinet.

Each composition was introduced by the composer and after one of the composers introduced his piece, Drowned Out, Gwen pointed out that he, Edward Henderson, is the brother of Bill Henderson, Chilliwack fame, and of course, Salt Spring resident and active Salt Spring Folk Music Society organizer not to mention occasional Salt Spring Fall Fair volunteer.

Edward Henderson explained how the composition was inspired after he had watched a documentary called Drowned Out, about how the Sardar Sarovar Dam System , just one of 3,600 dams in India, has dislocated about 40 million primarily tribal peoples, most of whom now live in slums at the edge of cities. He also recommended reading an article by Arundhati Roy titled, The Greater Common Good.

The piece was absolutely beautiful and that description is pretty lame I admit. It was the first time it was performed to an audience and it was enthralling, taking us on a journey as the music traveled as fluidly as the images it evoked through the notes.

So, being seated beside the partner of the Hendersons' sister, a nice man whom I'd exchanged pleasantries with as one does when seated beside a stranger at a concert,  I asked him a question. "So," I said, "where does all this talent originate from in the Henderson clan?"
"Well," he said, "they think they've traced it to a female in the family tree who was a concert violinist." And, now, I can't recall whether he said great grandmother or great aunt.

The evening's Program said that a reviewer from The Georgia Straight newspaper described The Vancouver Intercultural Orchestra  as sounding like Vancouver looks. I like that description.

It feels right to be back in an environment where cultural diversity enlivens and enriches every day.

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