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Mar 1, 2016

Marking 5th Anniversary of Japan Earthquake: Children Spread Wings with Music

2nd Children's festival
2nd Children's festival

This year’s March 11 marks the 5th anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan and subsequently instigated nuclear accidents along the coast. Many children were then separated from beloved families and friends, lost homes and went through traumatic experiences. Friends of El Sistema Japan was established in 2012, one year after the disaster, to equip children in the affected areas with life skills through music. Specifically, we have been engaging children in El Sistema-inspired inclusive education program – any child, regardless of his or her family background, disabilities and nationality, can participate in a classical orchestra and chorus and receive music education for free, as far as the child wishes. 

The Friends of El Sistema Japan’s program started off with a modest number of children, partly due to lack of resources. However, now the orchestra has grown to a dynamic group of 90 children while the chorus counts over 60 children. Furthermore, by dispatching music teachers to public schools, we are providing indirect support to approximately 2000 children in the earthquake-affected areas. This has all became possible with incredible commitment and support from those who believe in our program for children.

To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the tragedy, we recently organized the El Sistema Children’s Music Festival with the local government of Soma City, Fukushima. Children were so proud to sing and play instruments with their peers. In fact, the orchestra and chorus itself is now like a big family playing the sounds in harmony. “When I first came to Soma City, I was so lonely away from my kindergarten friends”, said 4th grader Nanaka. Following the earthquake, she evacuated from the coastal town in northeastern Japan, which was contaminated by the nuclear power plant accidents. “But now I have many friends here. Singing with them in front of a large audience like today brings me great joy”, she continued with a big smile. 

At the El Sistema Children’s Music Festival, the children demonstrated the power of music by uniting not only themselves but also their families, friends, and the audience at large – which includes the current and potential supporters like yourself. While the reconstruction efforts continue in various forms, we believe our program has benefited and will keep benefiting those children on the ground. Music, together with friends, can create peace of mind. We greatly appreciate your generous support in all our endeavors.

Dec 4, 2015

The power of music to help us connect with others!

Fabiola and me
Fabiola and me

On November 22nd 2015, Terresa Carreno Youth Orchestra of Venezuela, one of the flagship orchestras from the homeland of El Sistema,came to Soma, Fukushima. 150 young people aged between 16 and 25 played a side by side with Soma Children’s Orchestra. This was a kind of the dream-come-true moment for many of our young musicians.

Misaki (Grade 8) expressed her excitement by saying; 

“…I had a great experience to interact with our El Sistema friends from Venezuela. I am the leader of second violin and was very nervous. However, Fabiola, who sat next to me was very friendly and kind so that I was able to relax and enjoyed talking with her. When we played Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony together, she played really well. I got absorbed in the music playing with her. It was extremely fun. As always, I was amazed by the power of music to help us connect with other people.

It is because of your support that I can have such a wonderful experience. I am grateful from the bottom of my heart.

I will continue to play the violin as a member of this Soma Children’s Orchestra. I hope to encounter a lot of new people and connect with them by music.” 

3 years ago when we established Friends of El Sistema Japan, children in Soma were still living in challenging environment and struggling with traumatic stress caused by earth quake, Tsunami, and subsequent nuclear accident. Many of them lost their family members and friends. They had to be relocated to shelters, and restricted to play outside due to radiation.

We believed in power of music and potential children have. We vision children will grow zest for living through El Sistema inspired music program. We dreamed that someday, children will be able to talk about their own dreams again. Slowly but surely we see positive changes in children as well as community they live in.

As always, our sincere appreciation for your donation and continuous support. Your donation is mainly utilized to provide and maintain children’s instruments, as well as for their daily lessons. If you have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to hear what you think!

Sep 3, 2015

Music transforms oneself and the community!

Soma Civic Center was filled with joyful and heavenly voice of Soma Children’s Chorus, as young and talented Hungarian-Japanese professional pianist Miyuji Kaneko accompanied with the children. On July 17th 2015, a recital of rising star Steinway artist Kaneko was held at Soma Civic Center. 60 members of Soma Children’s Chorus were invited, and like many other audiences the children were enchanted by Kaneko’s performance; music piece includes Hungarian music giant Bartók Béla, Chopin and Liszt. During the concert, the children had an opportunity to sing along with Kaneko’s piano, and they beautifully performed the piece they have been practicing for days; “Esteli notazas“ written by Hungarian composer Jószef Karai, in its original language! It must have been quite nervous and challenging experience for the children, but what we witnessed in them was only confidence and joy.

After the concert, we received an anonymous note which reads;

“Being aged like myself, living alone and not capable of going too far from home, today was such a special day. The concert reminded me how wonderful and how nourishing music is. I was concerned that children in Soma too, not being able to have cultural experiences because our town is in remote area, but I am very happy to see that they have such a great opportunity because El Sistema is here in Soma. Playing together with a professional artist during childhood is a treasure and life-altering experience. Thank you El Sistema Japan, for reaching out to children in our community. Today, I am encouraged, energized, and I feel I can overcome challenges lies before me. Thank you.”

This program was originally started to help children to recover from trauma of earth quake, tsunami, and other hardships followed by the disaster. However, now we see one by one, people around the children also transforming their lives.

We thank you, Global Giving donors for your continuous support. Because of your committed contribution, many children are making positive changes in their lives as well as community they live in. We are determined to expand our program and reach out to more children in needs!

As always, we value your feedback. Please feel free to contact us for any suggestions and opinions. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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