Tarleton music professors Dr. Iwao Asakura and Dr. Leslie Spotz will perform in concert Saturday in Glen Rose as part of the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit.
The event will bring 160 visitors from Japan to participate in tours, programs and homestay visits with 15 communities all over the DFW Metroplex.
The free concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the First United Methodist Church in Glen Rose.
Japanese-born Asakura will sing a selection of traditional American songs. Lending his baritone voice to spirituals, he will be accompanied by Tarleton colleague Spotz.
“The invitation to participate is such a far reaching international exchange right here in north central Texas and is exciting and inspiring,” Spotz said. “Dr. Asakura and I were delighted to be included.”
The summit honors the lifelong friendship between Captain William H. Whitfield, an American whaler, and John Manjiro Nakahama, a Japanese fisherman and the first Japanese citizen to be educated in America. Manjiro’s knowledge of America facilitated the opening of Japan to trade with the western world following the arrival of Commodore Matthew C. Perry in 1853. Manjiro taught English, navigation, ship-building and American ideas, such as democracy, to young Japanese samurais who led Japan to modernize and join the developed world.
“The friendship between these two men is unique in that it has continued for more than 170 years between their descendants,” said Hiroko Todoroki, secretary general of the Commemorative Center for International Exchange in Japan. “The purpose of the annual Grassroots Summit is to encourage new friendships between Japanese and Americans that will last a lifetime and beyond. Members of the Whitfield and Nakahama families play a pivotal role in each Summit, and serve as a reminder of the enormous potential of grassroots exchange.”