SGI-USA Arts Division Conference at FNCC
From February 8-11, 2008, SGI-USA held an Arts Division Conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA. Some 180 members from throughout the country participated in the event, together with Arts Division leaders Kay Yoshikawa and Carmella Menchaka, vice leader Aeyung Park de Melo and advisors Buster Williams and Gary Murie.
In a message for the conference, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda encouraged those attending to foster capable people having the qualities of the bodhisattva appearing in the Lotus Sutra described as "Wonderful Sound," who was said to assume various forms in order to save people by propagating the Lotus Sutra far and wide with his wondrous voice. He encouraged them to cultivate their potential with pride in their contributions to culture and the arts. Throughout the weekend, participants shared experiences of overcoming personal struggles and emerging triumphant in their lives and careers through their practice of Nichiren Buddhism. There was also a performance corner, a reading from A Youthful Diary and a video screening. SGI-USA General Director Daniel Nagashima lectured on one of Nichiren's writings.
A highlight of the conference was watching the televised broadcast of fellow Arts Division members' victories at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards on the evening of February 10. Jazz legend Herbie Hancock took home the night's top honor--Album of the Year--for his Joni Mitchell tribute album, River: The Joni Letters. Jazz composer and saxophonist Wayne Shorter contributed the classic "Nefertiti" to the album. Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, meanwhile, won Best Musical Show Album for "Spring Awakening," based on the 1891 play by Frank Wederkind. Other SGI-USA members winning Grammys this year were Suzanne Vega and Michael Brecker (1949-2007), who won posthumously.
[Adapted from articles in the February 22, 2008 issues of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan, and the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Dixon Hamby]