Akebono and cherry jam at Burrard skytrain station

It was a gorgeous sunny day for the opening of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival at the Burrard skytrain station today.  The Akebono cherry trees are 2-3 weeks late this year, due to a cold winter. The Akebono cherry buds were about to open, and there were some blossoms at the top of the trees.

Leaving the station, I saw a woman taking pictures of the smaller tree planted in front of the station and realized this was probably my best chance for me to get a close-up  of the blossoms. The tree is in the sunlight. It was perfect.

For more information about the opening concert, check out my blog post for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival about the 2017 cherry jam.

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Cherry Jam at Burrard skytrain

 

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival kicked off today with the Cherry Jam, a free concert held at the Burrard skytrain station in downtown Vancouver.

This year, several artists teamed up to offer a multidisciplinary experience: The Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra performed  first, then stayed on stage to accompany two dancers and a Japanese singer.

Chinese musician Ji Rong Huang played the er-hu while Dayna Szyndrowski performed tap dancing. I was blown away that someone had thought of mixing these two different art forms together. And they worked perfectly!

Japanese artist Yayoi Hirano from Yayoi Theatre Movement performed haiku in mime while accompanied by the flute music of Holly Burke. (I took a video.)

Vancouver Okinawa Taiko group closed the show with powerful drumming and dancing.

All performances were wonderful and memorable!

 

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival banner

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 banner at Burrard skytrain station

The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival banner is up at the Burrard skytrain station.

We have so many activities planned for the festival from April 4-30 2013!  Mark these dates to your calendar:

Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013 banner at Burrard skytrain station

Come celebrate spring with us!

A Ukulele Celebration – beginners workshop

Ukulele Celebration of cherry blossoms

The event “A Ukulele Celebration of Cherry Blossoms” is a partnership between the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and Ruby’s Ukes.

On Saturday March 9, I rescued my ukulele from the back of my closet and headed out for a beginners workshop at Ruby’s Ukes. My objective: learn to play Sakura Sakura on the ukulele in just two hours!

At the Seymour Building, I was greeted by Ruby with a big smile.  She asked if I ever played the ukulele and I was too shy to admit I had bought it as a decoration piece many years ago.  Ruby tuned my ukulele and I was surprised (and relieved) to hear it sounded just like a real music instrument.

The beginners’ workshop was two hours. In the first hour, we learned how to play the ukulele. Our teacher Guido Heistek cracked a lot of jokes and made learning ukulele really fun and easy. We learned how to tune the ukulele by ear (a simple melody that goes “My dog has fleas”), how to hold the instrument, how to read the music sheet, play some chords and finally play some songs. In just an hour, we went from complete beginners to budding musicians!

Ukulele Celebration of cherry blossoms

After a snack (tea, cookies, fruits and almonds), we tackled the second part of the workshop: learningSakura Sakura (a traditional japanese song celebrating cherry blossoms). That went really smoothly now that we all knew how to play.

The melody Sakura Sakura sounds really good played on the ukulele. The sound is very similar to the koto, the string instrument traditionally used to play Sakura Sakura.

Cherry Ukuleles by Rubys Uke

Now, all we have to do is practice and rehearse for the Ukulele Celebration of Cherry Blossoms concerts which will take place at Cherry Jam (April 4th) and Sakura Days Japan Fair (April 6-7).  Don’t miss it, it’s going to be amazing!  The beginners will play the melody while intermediate and advanced students will play the chords. We’ll also have a singer!

If you know how to play the ukulele, sign up for the rehearsal on Saturday March 23. For only 5$, you will learn the song Sakura Sakura, get a copy of the music sheet, have lots of fun and get a chance to play on stage during Cherry Jam and Sakura Days Japan Fair.