Komagata Maru tragedy inspires musicians for this year’s Vancouver jazz fest

Published: June 16, 2014

Undated handout photo of titled “The Komagata Maru” 1914 by John Thomas Woodruff from 100 Photos That Changes Canada, Wednesday, November, 4, 2009. HANDOUT/PNG Merlin Archive

STUART DERDEYN
VANCOUVER DESI

The 1914 Komagata Maru tragedy in which 376 passengers arrived in Vancouver on a ship from Punjab, India, but were forced to return inspired two projects at this year’s TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Composers Michael Blake (michaelblack.net) and Neelamjit Dhillon (neelamjit.com) both present new works this year.

The players come from unique points of inspiration. One has direct relationship to the incident and the other a broader scope.

“One of my relatives was H.H. Stevens, the minister of customs and excise, who was actively involved in the incident and was a horrible white supremacist,” says saxophonist Blake. “It was so at odds with the family history that I thought with the centenary this year I should do something with the great Canadian band I have about it.”

With Barking Sphinx Performance Society’s support, Blake composed the Komagata Maru Blues to make a statement about tolerance and inclusion.

Related:

Saxophonist Michael Blake. Submitted photo.

Saxophonist and tabla player Dhillon composed his Komagata Maru as a 60-minute performance of original music, contextualized projected archival photos and more to be released as a recording in time for the festival. The two musicians didn’t know each other. They do now.

Dhillon was invited to play tabla on one song in Blake’s performance piece.

“Unlike Michael, I don’t have a direct connection to the Komagata Maru, but its history has always been a part of growing up in the South Asian community in B.C.,” says Dhillon. “I felt part of a marginalized community because of it and there are other marginalized communities in Canada still coming by boat; still encountering resistance. I wanted to take this reality via the Komagata Maru and examine people’s histories on the boat using specific Indian raga forms.”

Both compositions are meant to inspire strong emotions and with the intent to strengthen the ties to a pluralistic and caring multicultural society.

EVENT DETAILS:

Neelamjit Dhillon Komagata Maru, Performance Works, Saturday, 1:30 p.m., free

Michael Blake’s Komagata Maru Blues, Ironworks, Sunday, 9 p.m., $25

sderdeyn@theprovince.com
twitter.com/stuartderdeyn


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,





Featured

hands

Spice Radio calling on Metro Vancouver to Raise Your Hands Against Racism Saturday

VANCOUVER DESI Burnaby-based broadcaster Spice Radio is asking community members across Metro Vancouver to raise their hands against racism on Saturday. As part of the…
Continue Reading »

brutal DELHI gang rape

CBC to air controversial documentary about Indian gang rape

THE CANADIAN PRESS TORONTO — A documentary that the Indian government tried to ban from broadcast is getting airtime in Canada on Sunday. “India’s Daughter”…
Continue Reading »

Delhi

YouTube blocks access to BBC documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, Indian government serves legal notice

  IANS New Delhi – YouTube on Thursday began blocking access to the controversial BBC documentary on the December 16, 2012 gang rape, citing court…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

hands

Spice Radio calling on Metro Vancouver to Raise Your Hands Against Racism Saturday

VANCOUVER DESI Burnaby-based broadcaster Spice Radio is asking community members across Metro Vancouver to raise their hands against racism on Saturday. As part of the…
Continue Reading »

banned in India-sex-soft porn-erotica

Tourism Vancouver promotes ‘Fifty Shades’ locations used by cast and crew

THE CANADIAN PRESS VANCOUVER – Much of the headline-grabbing movie “Fifty Shades of Grey,” released last month, was shot in downtown Vancouver, a fact that…
Continue Reading »

Hands Against Racism

Hands Against Racism: Send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

241798_330998686982510_898439400_odesi

Gallery: Eight-year-old ‘Little Money, Big Difference’ campaign goes viral

VANCOUVER DESI Eight years ago, Cordaid People in Need, a development aid organization launched its campaign ‘Little Money, Big Difference’ to draw attention to the fact that…
Continue Reading »

Hands Against Racism

Hands Against Racism: Send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

immigrants-work-study-bc-career

Canada-wide initiative helps immigrants find work in fields for which they have prepared

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI When Manbir Randhawa immigrated from India to B.C., she knew she’d have to “start from scratch” in order to land a…
Continue Reading »

Desi-weird news

Doctor’s afraid to release baby who ‘spontaneously combusted’ to his mom

VANCOUVER DESI Doctors in India are reluctant to release a baby who ‘spontaneously combusted’ to his mom, fearing she suffers from an attention-seeking syndrome, Britain’s…
Continue Reading »

Surrey farm-food bank BC

Volunteers rally in support of God’s Little Acre Farm after food banks refuse donations

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI Volunteers are rallying around a philanthropic Surrey farmer after local food banks refused to accept his food donations and questioned his…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood-Hollywood

Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel welcomes back Lillete Dubey

John Madden film also stars Richard Gere BOB THOMPSON POSTMEDIA NEWS LONDON — Lillete Dubey has appeared in more than 40 films, many of them…
Continue Reading »

BOLLYWOOD

Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra missing home on Holi, busy with ABC drama in Atlanta

IANS Mumbai – With Holi on Friday, actress-singer Priyanka Chopra says she misses being at home on the festival of colours. The actress took to…
Continue Reading »

Kingfisher calendar

Kingfisher calendar girl Sarah Jane Dias to make her debut in live performance

IANS Mumbai – Indie singer Sarah Jane Dias is set to perform in front of a live audience for the first time with the ‘The…
Continue Reading »