Anthony Brown has been leading the Asian American Orchestra for 20 years, with the mission of educating the public about the Internment of Japanese-Americans during the time of the Second World War. This year is the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, which ordered that internment, and in commemoration, he’s written a work called Go For Broke: A Salute to Nisei Veterans, the second-generation (American-born) soldiers who served in the U.S. armed forces.
Anthony Brown says the Asian American Orchestra first brought together the strands of Asian-American Jazz and traditional Asian instruments with an important purpose: “To educate the American public about the internment experience. This was in 1997, and here we are 20 years later, and still fulfilling that mission.” And one of the starkest examples of the unfairness of the Internment Executive Order was this. “When I first found out about the fact that Nisei soldiers were sent overseas to defend our country, and meanwhile their families were imprisoned, that injustice I think inspired me to want to address that specifically.” A previous work, called EO9066 (which will also be on the program this Friday) focused on life in the camps, but this one deals with the soldiers and the families left behind, and in captivity. Janice Mirikitani, former San Francisco Poet Laureate, incorporated historical texts with her own: “Letters that were written between soldiers serving overseas and their mothers, in camp. And she also found oral histories of people who were interviewed much later in life in reflection on their experience in camp.”