Review - DUO in Taiwan

Friday, October 8, 1999

Musicians play on amid rubble of Taiwan

Flute and guitar ensemble shaken but otherwise OK following ordeal
By Stephanie Waddell

Flute/guitar ensemble DUO are still feeling the tremors of the earthquake in Taiwan last month - and their generosity is creating tremors as well.

DUO, or Margot Rydall, of the Beach, and Ivan Zilman of Scarborough, arrived home last week after not only living through the devastating Taiwan earthquake, but also staying long enough to do a benefit concert.

Rydall and Zilman were relaxing on the balcony of their hotel when they noticed lights going out around Taipei and a lot of dogs barking before the biggest shock came.

"All of a sudden the building started rocking back and forth," Rydall said. "There was this huge swaying motion."

The two dropped to the floor and remained there for the estimated 45 seconds of the earthquake's eruption.

"It seemed to last 15 minutes," said Rydall. "It was weird because I wasn't scared. It was like "Well, I guess we're going to die'."

Fortunately the swaying stopped so the two ran down 10 flights of stairs to the courtyard amid surrounding buildings decorated with ceramic tiles.

"The tiles were raining down into the courtyard," Zilman said. "I was hit on the head a couple of times, but I wasn't injured."

Cars jammed the streets to get away from the destruction as buildings buckled. Although there was some damage to the hotel it was not serious.

The earthquake registered 7.6 on the Richter scale with aftershocks rumbling for weeks later, but that didn't stop DUO from trying to fulfil their concert obligations. While many Canadians were swarming the airport to head home, they were helping to pick up the pieces and offer relief.

"We were the only Canadian musicians who stayed," Zilman said, "We made a personal commitment to stay for our concerts."

Although two concerts were cancelled because of the earthquake, DUO held a fund-raising concert for the relief effort.

"It was extremely spontaneous," Zilman said. "Somehow the music took on a whole new meaning."

As the concert went on more people came out and donated to the relief fund. By the end of the performance more than $2,000 in Taiwanese dollars had been raised.

After arriving back in Toronto the two are still feeling the effects of the massive earthquake weeks later. The first time Rydall waited for the subway she noted it felt like small tremors when the subway arrived.

Looking back, the experience had a deep spiritual effect on her. "Maybe it's because of the increased awareness of your own mortality," she said, "I think there was a cultural bonding throughout the area of going through this together."

Zilman said it gave him a new appreciation for human life.

DUO continues to demonstrate their generosity here at home with a benefit concert for the Beaches Interfaith Drop-in Centres on October 17 at 2pm. The recital is at the Beach Hebrew Institute and donations will be gratefully received.