Haibun For Those Washed Away

by Glenn Stallcop, composer/pianist

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about

I recorded these tracks in the fall of 2009, but I didn’t start to edit them into an album until March 2011. I had just started to work on them when Japan was hit with the earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear disaster. Some disasters hit harder than others. Because I had recently been to Japan, my daughter had spent three years teaching there, and because the visuals were so terrifying, this disaster really got to me.

My daughter finally found her former roommate who was in Tokyo, but whose present roommate's family was from Sendai, at the heart of the disaster. After two weeks, the family finally called to say they were safe. They were at home when the tsunami hit. It lifted their house off its foundation and floated it two kilometers inland. They had a wood foundation, if the house had had a cement foundation, it would have been flattened.

Haibun For Those Washed Away is my memorial to the 17,000 people who perished in that terrible disaster, and the countless thousands of others rendered homeless, jobless, or orphan. I do all the artwork for my albums, but for this one, I had trouble finding a subject. Drawing water or wreckage or debris just didn't seem to do them honor or justice. I finally found a reference to the "miracle pine" from Rikuzentakata. The pine is the only surviving tree of the 70,000 or so that lined the coastline. It has become a symbol of hope to the survivors. Unfortunately, the salt water has rotted its roots, but survivors raised 15m yen to restore the tree with steel and synthetics and turn the surrounding area into a memorial park.
There are 27 tracks memorializing the victims and survivors. Many of the tracks are short symbolizing those lives that ended too soon.

For The Fathers (Tracks 1-3) and For The Mothers (Tracks 4-8). Though two-thirds of the casualties were over 60 years of age, about 3,000 children lost either one or both parents.

For The Children (Tracks 9-16). The children are particularly heart breaking. The tsunami hit while the children were at school, and many children who survived were separated from their parents and on their own. Several teachers also died. The only two Americans to die were part of the same Japanese English Teachers program that my daughter worked in.

For The Lovers (Tracks 17-20). I have a special place in my heart for those who lose their lovers in war or disaster. The scar can last a lifetime.

For The Workers (Tracks 21-24). Nobody needs to tell the Japanese about the dangers of nuclear radiation. My daughter visited the memorial at Hiroshima while she was there, and said it was one of the most moving experiences of her life. She still folds origami cranes for her/our Christmas tree. After the tsunami, the drama that unfolded daily at the Fukushima Power Plant was devastating. I read an interview with a worker who said that they all knew what was in store for them (cancer, radiation poisoning, etc.), but that they HAD to stop and contain the meltdown. Their wives and children were not nearly so resolute, but did not complain (much). These heroes deserve special consideration

For The Survivors (Tracks 25-27). The Japanese are tough, resilient people. But the effects of this disaster will persist for a generation or more.

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released April 20, 2015

Glenn Stallcop piano, composer, album artist

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Glenn Stallcop Phoenix, Arizona

Glenn Stallcop is a composer, pianist, and a long-time double bassist with the Phoenix Symphony. He has recorded many albums of piano improvisation over the last 20 years. He is a well-established composer with over 100 published works for orchestra, chamber music and vocal works, solo piano and double bass. ... more

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