Fukushima student orchestra to hold concert in Boston(中高生の楽団、ボストンでコンサート)

Members of Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta practice at Fukushima City Concert Hall.(米国ボストン公演に向けて練習に熱を入れる福島青年管弦楽団の団員。高野さん(前列左)は仲間と演奏できる喜びをかみしめる=福島市音楽堂)

 FUKUSHIMA - Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta, based in Fukushima Prefecture, is an orchestra of about 50 middle and high school students, some of who still live as evacuees due to the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent nuclear crisis in March 2011. The orchestra will hold a concert in Boston this spring, its second overseas performance after a London concert in April 2014.


 The members will visit the United States from March 26 to April 5, soon after commemorating the fifth anniversary of the disaster. They have matured together and are practicing hard for the upcoming concert. "We will perform to express the bright spirit of Fukushima and appreciation for the considerable support [people have given us]," said one Sinfonietta member.


 "I was forced to move to Fukushima city from Minami-Soma, and overwhelmed by anxiety. But music always gave me courage," said 16-year-old cellist Kyosuke Takano. The people he met through music gave him the push he needed to start a new life.


 Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta was founded in 2014 through support from Keys of Change, a London-based charity group of professional classical musicians whose members performed in the prefecture after the triple disaster.


 Takano met Panos Karan, a concert pianist and founder of the charity, at a piano lesson in Minami-Soma during that time. He kept in touch with Karan and soon discovered that the pianist was planning to establish an orchestra of children who had participated in the charity group's lessons. Takana passed the audition for the orchestra and has since been rewarded with a rich social life. Playing music with friends is a great joy, he says.


 Hirona Watanabe, a 16-year-old contrabassist who performed in the London concert, said she has learned a lot from orchestra colleagues. "It's fun and exciting," she said.


 Ouga Shikama, a 14-year-old trumpeter, said performing in Boston will be a precious experience for him. At the London concert he and his fellow musicians performed together with a local orchestra, and now he is looking forward to a similar experience with the distinguished Boston Symphony Orchestra.


 Takano said he has learned a lot, both in lessons with professional musicians in Japan and overseas, and from playing with colleagues of similar age. Less than two months before departing for Boston, he is enthusiastic. "The people I have met playing music helped me to grow. Now, I'd like to make my own impression on supporters of the orchestra and local people I meet there," he said.


 Parents seek support
 Keys of Change arranged the 2014 concert in London, and Boston members of the group, deeply impressed by the orchestra's mission, have realized the upcoming concert as well. However, there are costs involved for the Fukushima orchestra.
 In late January, parents of orchestra members held a meeting to establish a nonprofit organization to continually support to their children's activities. The parents are striving to collect donations from local communities across Japan, and the orchestra will hold a charity concert at Fukushima City Concert Hall on March 25.

( Translated by The Japan News )


 【 2016年1月1日・本紙掲載 】