Review - DUO in Taiwan

Beach Metro News - by Bill McLean

DUO's trip had a 'whole lotta shaking going on'

When Ivan Zilman and his partner Margot Rydall left for their concert tour to Taiwan in September, they thought they were off to have "an adventure in China." Little did they know how much of an adventure they were embarking on. On September 21 the two members of the guitar/flute ensemble called DUO got caught up in the largest earthquake to hit the island this century.

"It was horrendous!," said Zilman. "Margot and I were standing out on our balcony (of the condo unit they were staying in) looking out over the city when we noticed lights going out in various sections of the city. At first I thought it was just an electrical overload because of the hot weather and all the air-conditioners.

"But then I heard this deep rumble and felt our building start to shake. Margot thought she was having a dizzy spell, she couldn't hear the rumble. I figured we had better get inside, so I pulled her into the living room. We lay on the floor and I started pulling pillows on top of us. That's when all hell broke loose!

"Cupboards flew open! Dishes started flying around the room! All the lights went, out, the room was in total darkness. It was shaking and rumbling! I started counting for some reason and counted up to 45 seconds before it stopped!"

Zilman recalled experiencing the earthquakes we have here in Toronto - a brief two - or three second shake and maybe 3 or 4 on the Richter Scale. But this was different; 45 seconds and 7.3 in their area of Taipei. He went on to recount what happened next.

"When it stopped, I realised that there were bound to be aftershocks, so we got out of there as soon as possible. Down in the street all the lights were out. There were cars and motor scooters racing around in the dark streets trying to get home to loved ones, or just trying to get out of the town.

"And then the aftershocks started, and they were around 6 on the Richter Scale, so they were like major earthquakes themselves. We had to decide whether to stand in the courtyard and risk having bricks and tiles from our building rain down on us, or stand out in the dark streets with the traffic. The quake struck at about 1:40am and we stayed outside until about 3:30. As soon as we could we phoned home to say we were okay, and luckily got through before the lines jammed up."

Two of DUO's concerts in Taichung and Kaohsiung had to be cancelled because the roads were so badly damaged, but the group decided to stay on in Taipei and perform their scheduled concert later that week.

In the meantime, with time on their hands and a desire to help with the relief efforts, DUO organised an impromptu concert in the courtyard of the building in which they were staying. It was just the relief the citizens of Taipei needed. The 'concert' was well attended and the group raised more than 2,000 Taiwan dollars towards the relief effort.

As it turned out DUO was also the only group that stayed in Taiwan for their concert at the National Concert Hall. Others had fled the disaster area as soon as they could.

"I figured we were called to do something for these people," said Zilman. "It was a chance to make lemonade out of lemons."

In addition to the concerts, DUO has arranged through the Canadian Trade Office to have proceeds from the sale of their CD in Taiwan (which will be reviewed in a later edition of BMN) flow directly into the Taiwan Earthquake Relief Fund.

Tuesday, October 19, 1999