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The Brandenburg 300 Project Honors Mrs. Helen Chizu Iwanga

Helen Chizu Iwanaga formed bands of all types in the internment camps during World War II, welcoming the new prisoners with big band arrangements of swing tunes like “Moonlight Serenade”, “I’m In the Mood for Love,"It Had to be You” and other jazz standards. In the course of my research I brought her name up with people from several different backgrounds from the Watsonville area, and they invariably got a big smile on their face and sank into fond memories. She served as piano teacher and friend to so many that she was beloved by all the parts of her community. One of the first Asian American graduates of The College of Pacific (now UOP) Music program, Iwanaga was a pioneer in Buddhist music. “I love to sing, I go to the opera, I love symphonic music!” exclaimed an energetic, youthful, Helen Iwanaga in her mid-80s. She passed away in 2007 at the age of 92.

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Brandenburg 41 Helen Iwanaga.pdf (1004 kB)