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 Children  Japan Project #14117

Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus

by Friends of El Sistema Japan
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus
2nd Children
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.

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!

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!

“Now I have a new dream; I will visit Los Angeles as a member of highly regarded Japanese orchestra, namely, Soma Children’s Orchestra!”

Misaki (Grade 8) shared after the concert event “Dudamel and the Children” held on March 29, 2015, co-hosted by city of Soma, Friends of El Sistema Japan and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Misaki, one of the selected members to play with Youth Orchestra Los Angeles (YOLA), a well established el sistema inspired program run by the LA Philharmonic, conducted by maestro Dudamel at the most prestigious classical music venue in Japan “SUNTORY Hall”, seemed very nervous throughout the rehearsal and the concert. (and she had all right to be!) However, when she returned from the stage, she was full of confidence with sense of accomplishment and joyfully shared her new dream. 

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.

This is all because of YOU! 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 questions or suggestions, please do let us know. We would be happy to hear what you think!

Concert is over!
Concert is over!

“We learned the importance of taking initiative, learning from each other, and keep polishing ourselves.” Naoko (Grade 6)

We are very happy to share that on March 1st 2015, we co-hosted El Sistema Children Music Festival 2015 successfully in Soma-city of Fukushima, together with City of Soma. It has been nearly 3 years since Friends of El Sistema Japan was established and 2 years and 10 months since Cooperation Agreement with City of Soma was concluded. But this was the very first time we co-hosted the event. We feel is quite meaningful at all levels that local organization and community are actively involved in the program 

At the opening of music festival, Naoko (Grade 6) spoke to the audience on the stage. “The earthquake from 4 years ago has caused inexpressible fear and traumatic stress to many. And many are still suffering emotionally, and living in challenging environment. But I feel since this El Sistema inspired program has started in Soma, I recognize gradual changes in ourselves. Through the power of music, we were able to rebuild our shattered heart. And, through the power of music, we are now able to look ahead and have hope for the future. Furthermore, El Sistema has taught us its importance of taking initiative, learning from each other and keep polishing ourselves. Today, we will sing with utmost gratitude, remembering each one of you who has been supporting us.”

Soma Children’s Orchestra and Chorus played and sung well-known pieces this time, including Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers from “The Nutcrackers” and “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah. Challenging pieces yet their performance was absolutely fascinating! The audience of more than 700 people, from inside and outside of the community seemed enjoyed the concert very much.

It may sound it is exaggerated; but we know the power of music is immeasurable, and it is our principle to grow zest for living through music. We are determined again to reach out more children in needs.

As always, we thank you for your donation and continuous support. We welcome your feedback and suggestions at all time. Please let us hear what you think!

 

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Organization Information

Friends of El Sistema Japan

Location: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Yutaka Kikugawa
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Japan

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