The dark history of Northwest Japanese internment camps during World War II is being uniquely illuminated this weekend. The journals of a young mother locked up in one of the camps are being put to music.
In 1942 after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Kara Kondo and her family were taken from their home in Yakima and sent to live at Wyoming's Heart Mountain War Relocation Center.
"I've been moved to tears every time we rehearse it," said Conductor Deborah Brown. "I'm realizing part of my job is to focus on the work and not melt, but this piece is very moving."
Among those who will be in the audience is Sandy Fugami. Her mother's entire family of 10 were incarcerated at the camp.
"It's kind of a betrayal of growing up in the U.S., being a citizen and then being treated as not," said Fugami.
Brown said the piece isn't so much about pain and suffering as it is maintaining one's dignity in the face of prejudice and persecution.
"She writes of the challenges of trying to carry on with life and take care of your children even as you hear the clang of the gates shutting behind you,” Brown said.
The role of Kara will be portrayed by Kimberly Sogioka, whose grandparents spent time at Heart Mountain.
Another featured soloist will be Lindsey Nakatani, a Julliard graduate, and native of Bellingham. She, too, had relatives at the camp.
A multi-media exhibit will take place after the performance detailing life at Heart Mountain.
Fugami believes the music is especially important in today's political climate, where fear and prejudice still permeate.
"I never thought anything like this could ever happen again, but now I'm not so sure," Fugami said.
The performance is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 17 at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church in Bellingham. The show is nearly sold out. For ticket information, email email@example.com.