Today we feature a conversation with renowned actor and author George Takei. He is coming to Utah for the Moab Music Festival, which has commissioned a new work based on his speeches, personal writings, and recollections of his and his family’s internment in camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.
The text for the new piece (in which Takei serves as narrator) looks back through his eyes, as he revisits his own childhood imprisonment in two confinement camps in Arkansas and northern California, and the ensuing struggles his family and so many others encountered after their release. It explores his small joys of childhood in the shadow of legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s tested faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.
On February 19, 1942, Executive Order 9066 changed the lives of 120,000 Japanese Americans in the U.S., by ordering the forced removal and relocation of residents as “enemy aliens.” This season, the Moab Music Festival (MMF) shines a light on this shameful period in U.S. history with the commissioning and premiering of Lost Freedom: A Memory by Japanese American composer Kenji Bunch, featuring renowned stage and screen actor George Takei narrating with chamber ensemble. The new work is based on Takei’s speeches, personal writings, and recollections, woven together by MMF Music Director Michael Barrett, and is the inaugural work in the Festival’s new Commissioning Club. The piece is the cornerstone of Lost Freedom: Japanese American Confinement in the U.S., a concert honoring Japanese Americans and, in particular, three Japanese American composers.
The program takes place at Red Cliffs Lodge on Saturday, September 4, 2021 at 7pm.
The new composition recalls the disturbing time in World War II America, when Takei and his family, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were stripped of their property and liberty, and unjustly imprisoned in confinement camps. Moab was the locale for a Department of Justice detention camp, where the “troublemakers” were sent, at nearby Dalton Wells, just outside of town.