Mar 5, 2021

6th El Sistema Children's Music Festival in Soma

The year 2020 was full of unimaginable events. We had originally planned our 6th El Sistema Japan Children’s Music Festival in Soma in March 2020. Like many other events, that was postponed due to the pandemic and finally held on December 27 at Soma Civic Hall with a modified program. Last year, while lessons were suspended and the future was uncertain, the children patiently kept practicing. The year-long effort resulted in a great performance, followed by a storm of applause from the audience in a warm atmosphere on a cold winter day.

“On the day, I was so happy just to see such a large audience despite the situation and that we were able to perform in front of them,” said Momoka, the concertmaster, after the concert. “When we were getting ready and about to perform, I felt a lot of tension, not from nervousness, but from the huge anticipation that you feel when you are really excited. That feeling for the first time in a year almost made me cry. I don't know how to put the joy of performing into words, the whole performance felt like an instant, and I really didn’t want it to end in a way I had never felt before. Just after the concert when teachers told me one after another that the performance was great, I cried so hard that I couldn’t speak.”

For Nanami, the chair of viola, “this music festival was extraordinarily special." She continued, "the festival and the rehearsals towards it brought us, the Soma Children’s Orchestra, a lot of progress. Making efforts for each other, helping each other, laughing together, we worked hard to play in ensemble and to make good music. Those moments are so precious in terms of time and memory. Nothing can replace them and the experience will always stay vivid in my mind. We are not professional musicians, but I like the sight and time that we played together more than any other beautiful, skillful performance. I think our performance was so original, wonderful, and full of memories that, years later, I will still want to listen to it.”   

El Sistema Japan is now preparing for an upcoming concert, the World Children’s Music Festival 2021 on March 29 from 6 pm JST (https://www.elsistemajapan.org/wcmftesteng), which will be broadcasted globally. This was originally planned in March 2020, and rescheduled for this date in a new form.  We would be pleased if you joined us online (https://worldchildrensmusicfestival2021intokyo.zaiko.io/buy/1pre:c5M:8e8c3).

Nov 6, 2020

Growing Together, Regardless of Age or Instrument.

Kasumi, a 2nd grader, forgot to do her homework of writing her fingering numbers on her music. She has just switched from violin to viola and the fingering numbers on the left hand are essential for her so that she can read music.During a break, she was still struggling with her homework.
Just then, Yusei, a second-year junior high school student, passed by and reached out to her saying, "Hey, isn't this incorrect here?" Yusei is an expert in sheet music, being a violinist, flutist, percussionist, and even singer in the chorus. "Also wrong here, wrong there!" They continued on to find and fix the mistakes together.
Until recently, they have been practicing separately, as they are from different classes and playing different instruments. So I asked Kasumi how they got close, and she said, "Because he and my sister are friends in the chorus." Children find each other's strengths, help each other, and grow together, regardless of age or instrument. I felt this story offered  a good example of the learning community that we envision.
We hope you will continue to follow the activities of the children of Soma as they are conquirng their challenge through music.

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Aug 31, 2020

Final report on our relief activities

Thank you very much for your contributions to the Typhoon Hagibis Relief Fund for Soma Children. The total amount of donations received from around the world was 2,406,928 yen, or almost 23,000 US dollars including 550 USD channeled through the GlobalGiving, which was a great help to the children of Soma to continue their music activities. 

Fortunately, we only had to purchase instrument cases and mouthpieces. Thanks to the efforts of skilled repairers at local music stores, Oasis and Takano, we were able to restore the soprano, alto and tenor saxophones by disassembling, cleaning and replacing some parts, and the cellos and double basses by drying them out and partial repairs. We are also pleased to report that the ten Koto harps (a traditional Japanese instrument) that were damaged, including those owned by nearby high schools, have been restored by drying them out and replacing all the strings. 

Since March, activities of both the Soma Children's Orchestra and the Soma Higashi (East) High School Wind Ensemble have been suspended as a precaution against the COVID-19 spread. The situation remains calm in Soma and the activities are now resuming, albeit with some restrictions. The cancelled 6th El Sistema Children's Music Festival in Soma is now rescheduled for this December 2020. 

We hope you will continue to follow the activities of the children of Soma as they are conquirng their challenge through music.

 
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