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Jan 9, 2020

The First Concert after the Typhoon Hagibis

Typhoon Hagibis hit a wide range of the east Japan in October 2019 and also caused a great damage to Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture where we are delivering daily support. The city was hit by heavy flooding and water reached above the floor level. On November 23, about one month after the typhoon passed, the concert of Soma Children Orchestra was held in Iwate Miyagi Fukushima Festa, a festival featuring the Tohoku region (All Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima belong to the Tohoku region) at MEGA WEB Tokyo.

A grade 8 student Risa a cellist of the orchestra found her instrument had been damaged by the muddy water after the flood. Despite the difficult situation as she said “I was speechless when I saw my instrument,” she started to practice by using another cello which was donated by the supporters. Fortunately she had her beloved cello repaired by the day she finally got on the stage.

In the concert, the orchestra performed six pieces including a local folk music Soma Bon Uta, Mozart's famous Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Vivaldi's Four Seasons and L'estro Armonico and received a round of applause from the audience. After the performance, Risa said “I played with the gratitude to everyone who helped us while the typhoon disaster. I am proud of our performance.”

Mr. Kenji Goto, a Soma based luthier who diligently works for our program, said “I hope that energy of music heals children who experienced the terrible earthquake and typhoon.” In fact, the recovery of the city and orchestra from the disaster is still on the way. We also highly appreciate continuous support given by our GlobalGiving partners — thank you!

Dec 23, 2019

Traditional Japanese Instruments Workshop at Soma

In addition to the operation of orchestra and chorus in Soma over weekends, El Sistema Japan has always been placing importance on supporting curricular activities in school as we work in partnership
with the local Board of Education.

Shown in the photos below are fifth graders attending a music appreciation workshop at Soma Iitoyo Elementary School on 21 November. With kind support from a local Japanese harp school, Ms. Monma and her students all gathered together.

The students first listened to Koto, traditional Japanese harps and then tried them out. Ms. Monma played the piece Haru no Umi (Spring Sea) with Mr. Ueda, previously a member of the Board of Education, managing activities with us and now a farmer and flautist. After the performance, the children tried out the Japanese harps. There was one harp for every four children and they orderly took turns to play Sakura Sakura. Joined by recorders, all sounded quite well for their first trial.

Nowadays it is rare to hear traditional Japanese instruments even in Japan. The school teachers and the board members appreciated this precious opportunity for the children to listen to and try such instruments.

In small cities like Soma, schools with smaller numbers of children are often too tight in resources to hire music teachers with specialist training. El Sistema Japan assists those schools to provide higher quality music appreciation classes, specialist training on classroom musical instruments like the recorder and the melodica, support for marching bands, and so forth. This is part of the government funded disaster relief program, which sends specialists including, but not limited to, emergency school counselors to the affected region. Most of the specialists we work with are also from the region.

Promoting children’s access to art and culture is one of our priorities at El Sistema Japan. It is important that children without easy access to art and culture still have opportunities to experience
and learn music of good standard. We are thankful for your support.

Sep 26, 2019

Children welcoming visitors with music

Soma-Nomaoi is one of the famous traditional festivals in Japan with a history of over 1000 years. During the festival season, Soma city is filled with excitement welcoming both domestic and foreign visitors. The festival is held for 3 days in a row. After the first day’s departure ceremony (Syutsujin-shiki) and Samurai procession (Musya-gyouretsu), the Soma City holds a welcome reception for special guests. 

This reception consisted of guests from all over Japan who have relationship with Soma City. It was such an honor for Soma Children’s Orchestra to be invited to perform at the opening, conducted by Mr. Okazaki, our music director.

The Vivaldi's L'estro Armonico No.8 "Concerto for 2 violins" was a specially memorable piece for the orchestra, because it was played at the summer seminar with teachers from Venezuela 6 years ago.

The first and third movement was performed at the reception, and the soloists, Takayuki (grade 11) and Momoka (grade 9), played their parts passionately. 

As the orchestra's tradition, the performance was closed with a very famous local folk song, "Soma Bonuta," which was arranged for strings, flutes and Japanese drums.

Mr. Ueda, who played an important role in establishing the Soma Children's Orchestra, also joined the performance by playing the Piccolo. He was a former Soma City Council senior official, who was responsible for the city's music and performing art programs .

We have received multiple compliments such as how it was wonderful, and how they were moved by the performance. We would especially like to thank the concerned people of Soma City for making this precious opportunity possible.

We also highly appreciate continuous support given by our Global Giving partners — thank you!

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