The 8th El Sistema Children's Music Festival in Soma was held on March 25th and 26th. The Music Festival was composed of wind orchestra, chorus, and orchestra stages. All the stages ended successfully. This report presents a digest of the exciting 2 days.
Day 1 started with the brass band stage. Three junior high school brass bands from Soma City performed their own unique piece.
The chorus stage followed, opening with a performance by Soma Chorus Espoir, a choral group from the city, then passed the baton to the children's chorus. The chorus enthralled the audience with Little Eyes, a collection of cute poems from a child's point of view, and some pieces from the musical The Sound of Music.
The road to the real performance was not easy for mainly three reasons. Firstly, unlike usual, everyone took a solo part. Secondly, the lyrics were written in English so extra care was needed to pronounce properly. Thirdly, the choreography was very detailed. With the support of the teachers and extra members, the children's chorus were able to overcome those difficulties and performed The Sound of Music in an original way that only this year’s children's chorus could present.
After the performance, some of the children were crying, saying they were relieved because the stage was over.
The children's orchestra took the stage on Day2. The first half, with the string orchestra, was a powerful performance of the first movement from Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48, followed by Bartok's Romanian Folk Dances, greatly led by the concertmaster.
The second half was performed by the 100-member orchestra, including wind and percussion instruments. The orchestra consisted of 5th graders to 12th graders, alumni of children’s orchestra, music college students, amateurs and professional extras performed Pirates of the Caribbean Medley, and The Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Op. 68, by Brahms.
Although they do not practice together on a regular basis, the hearts of everyone on stage were united by music, and were able to perform this magnificent symphony beautifully. Both the audience and performers were deeply moved by the children's enthusiastic performance, with many describing it as a 45-minute experience that flew by in an instant.
For the finale of the two-day festival, the children's chorus and the Soma Male Chorus joined on stage and locally renowned Soma Bon UtaSoma Traditional Dancing Songwas performed as always. The audience enjoyed the last piece with handclap.
Once again, we would like to thank everyone involved in the Children’s Music Festival, including those who cooperated and supported the event, teachers and extra members. This is also due to the continuous supports made possible by you, GlobalGiving donors. Thank you.
Wind instrument class’s recital in Soma ended successfully at the end of last year. 20 participants each faced their own challenges and showed their growth through their performances.
The first half of the recital featured solo and duet performances. First, the three elementary school students of flute, oboe, and bassoon, who just started playing their instruments this summer, performed a duet of Mary's Lamb and My Grandfather's Clock with their teachers. The audience and other students applauded their wonderful performance, which conveyed a sense of tension and hard work.
Next, the senior students of flute each performed a solo accompanied by Ms. Mitsumori on the piano. The performance was a collection of masterpieces, all of which were very challenging to play. The most difficult piece was probably the first part of Doppler's "Fantaisie Pastorale Hongroise Op.26 (Hungarian Pastoral Fantasy)" performed by Haoto (11th grade student).
After the recital, Haoto commented, “When I first saw the score, I thought that I can't play such a black score covered with so many notes! But after practicing the difficult parts over and over again, I am very happy that now I am now able to play the piece well.”
In the second half, students of french horn and clarinet sections each performed ensembles composed by Mozart and others. They had performed the same pieces at a local event a month earlier. But they practiced more and played other movements as well and showed more detailed and dynamic performance.
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On Saturday, July 2, Mr. Richard Stoltzman, a clarinet legend as well as a winner of sveral Grammy Awards, visited Soma for the first time in eight years to give a special lessen and mini concert.
Mr. Stoltzman’s special lessen was held in the Soma Civic Hall for seven lower and upper secondary school students of the clarinet class of Soma Children’s Orchestra.
Students performed a short solo piece or duo piece in front of Mr. Stoltzman. He carefully observed their embouchure (the way to hold the mouthpiece in the mouth and the use of the lips, facial muscles, tongue, and teeth in order to play a wind instrument), sang the phrases with them, and taught them how to feel and express their phrases. Each student got an opportunity to play together with Mr. Stoltzman, and felt his rich sound from up close.
During the class, Mr. Stoltzman said “A clarinet itself may look like a simple wooden tube. But once you breathe into it, it turns into an amazing instrument that can express your emotions. Express yourself through the clarinet. Sing your feelings.” Finally, he sent cheers to the students in Japanese “Ganbare!”.
Natsu, a ninth grade student who took the class said, “This was my first experience to be taught by a teacher from overseas. Even though I’m not familiar with English, his lesson was really easy to understand. And the way of his expression, and most of all, the sound of Mr. Stoltzman’s clarinet was amazing. I was so impressed with the resonance of the instrument as if he played the instrument as a part of his body."
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The 7th El Sistema Japan Children’s Music Festival in Soma held on 7th & 8th May ended safely without any confirmation of COVID-19 infected person. We would like to thank all the supporters, coaches and participants.
More than 200 players and members of the chorus performed on stage in two days. The last time chorus, wind ensemble and the Soma Children’s Orchestra performed together on stage was back in 2019. All the performances were filled with participants’passion and excitement for music. The Music Festival became more than suitable to celebrate the beginning of El Sistema Japan’s 10th anniversary of the establishment.
On 7th May, the wind ensemble clubs from Soma municipal Koyo, Nakamura Daiichi, Nakamura Daini junior high School started the festival with their performance. Each school played Wakai Hiroba, UBU LOVE, and Under the Flag of Glory Ceremonial March. The audience applauded for the wind ensemble stage after an interval of three years.
The chorus stage consists of three parts. The first part Seven songs of Tableaux by Kaneko Misuzu included recital of the poem. The next part Chorus Suite for Children Chikotan was performed with dances to express the dramatic story of a boy and his classmate Chiko. The suite is composed by Yasuo Minai and the lyrics are by the lyricist Taizo Horai. They ended their performance with Ametsuchi no uta (the song of the heavens and the earth) with the strings played by Soma Children’s Orchestra. The encore song Pie Jesus and A Comedic Duet for Two cats cracked up the audience with the beautiful solo and cute performance.
All the performances created by the children with their respective strengths under the direction of Mr. Furuhashi was filled with the charm of the Soma Children's Chorus. Those attractive performances made the audience want to listen to them more and more.
The second day started with Gunjo by male voice members of the Soma Senior Chorus Espoir, who has continued to perform in support from the first El Sistema Japan Children’s Music Festival in Soma.
In the following, children's orchestra string ensemble played St. Paul's Suite (G. Holst). Hokuto (3rd grader of Junior High School) splendidly led 50 children, including volunteers from the instrumental music club of Nakamura Daiichi Elementary School. Triptyque (Y. Akutagawa). which was challenged under the direction of Mr. Kimoto drew the audience’s attention with an overwhelming sound from the moment they started playing.
The virituoso violinist Yoko Kubo finally appeared in the first piece of the orchestra section. She performed Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto enthusiastically with children. It was a masterpiece performance that embodied the phrase "music is to express the soul" which Yoko often mentioned during the rehearsal. The longest curtain call of the day showed the excitement of the audience.
The last song Sound of Music Medley became a memorable song for Soma Children’s Orchestra. Since all the members attending the string and wind instrument classes played the orchestra song together for the first time, the appearance of children playing this masterpieace lively was very impressive.
The chorus joined again for the encore and the customary Soma Bonuta, a local folk song was performed. The 7th El Sistema Japan Children’s Music Festival ended with unstoppable applause from the audience.
Mr. Dai Yamamoto has been a long-time supporter of wind instrument classes and school support activities in Soma. He teaches not only horn playing (his specialty), but also recorders, melodicas, drum and fife corps, and music appreciation classes in every elementary school classroom in Soma.
On December 10, 2021, Mr. Yamamoto's music appreciation class was held at Nakamura Daini Elementary School. It was on the occasion of the music therapists' visit from the sponsor of this school support program, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
The class, held for 75 third-grade students, started with a performance of Mozart's Horn Concerto No. 2 with karaoke accompaniment, followed by an explanation of the history of the instrument using animal horns which is the origin of the modern horn, and then an introduction of an improvised horn made from gas hose.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, hands-on learning by the children could not be conducted, but instead, Mr. Yamamoto listened carefully to the children's voices, which made the 45-minute lesson very productive.
The music therapists commented that the children seemed to be happy to be able to take such a class, as it is difficult these days to give music lessons for teachers. Fun videos can be found on YouTube, but nothing can surpass the experience of a live performance.
The school support activities in Soma City, one of the pillars of El Sistema's activities along with the orchestra and chorus, is a valuable program run by the coordinator, Ms. Hoshi, and the teachers at the school.
Thank you for the wonderful class, Mr. Yamamoto.
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