“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!
“I send you and all of your colleagues and families back at home my un-ending support - as one, we are united!” The heartfelt message of Maestro Dudamel encouraged children of Fukushima greatly.
Commemorating 2 and half year anniversary of establishing Friends of El Sistema Japan, we had an honor to hold a Charity Gala Reception at ARK HILLS CLUB, Tokyo, on Sep. 23rd, 2014 surrounded by over 130 dedicated and committed supporters, including Maestro Gustavo Dudamel, one of the greatest conductors in a century produced by Venezuela.
The reception hall was filled with joy and excitement; however for those 13 selected members of Soma Children Orchestra, it might have been little different – extremely exciting, yet very nervous considering they were playing Mozart “Divertimento K136” in front of Maestro Dudamel!
Unceasing effort of children was definitely repaid. As their bows glide on the strings for the last note, entire audience stood up to give round of applause which lasted a while. One of the children bursted out crying. Later on, she shared with us that she was so happy to be able to play without any mistakes on the passage which has been quite difficult to concur. Each one of them looked very proud and standing little taller. The achievement was not only on the music but also what they have learned along the way. Tireless effort to brush up skills, courage to learn and challenge new piece, reaching out to one another with the mind of “no one is left behind”. But most of all, they learned the true beauty is to be able to play not for oneself but for others and contribute for others happiness.
We thank you, Global Giving donors for your continuous support that enables children to learn such a valuable experience.
After the excellent performance, Kanon (grade 9) spoke to the audience; “Our hometown Soma is the town of rich nature and long-established traditions that we are proud of. However, since the earthquake and Tsunami hit our hometown in March 2011, we faced numerous challenges and hardships such as losing family members or place to live. During such difficult time, El Sistema Japan came to our town, Soma Children Orchestra and Chorus were established and once again, we were able to play music. This meant so much to us, and we felt hope. We felt finally we could take a step forward. Now we even feel that our music is comforting and contributing to rebuild our community little. Oh behalf of 150 members of Soma Children Orchestra and Chorus 13 of us are here in Tokyo today. We played earnestly Mozart remembering our families, teachers and friends who supported throughout the challenging time. On this beautiful autumn day, I would be happy if you enjoyed, felt something from our music, and visit us in Soma to meet us again. (in Japanese)”
She also added in English. “ Maestro Dudamel, we hope you enjoyed our Mozart. Thank you so much for being with us today. We look forward to welcoming you in Soma someday.”
Maestro Dudamel responded; “To all of the children who played for me in Tokyo from Soma, I want to send to you my thanks, my gratitude and my love. It was a moving experience to hear you perform Mozart and I send you and all of your colleagues and families back at home my un-ending support - as one, we are united!”
Again, thanks to your committed contribution, many children are making positive changes in their lives and community they live in. We are determined o expand our program and reach out more children in needs. Your continuous support and kind attention would be immeasurably appreciated!
Through peer learning experience, Takayuki (Grade 6, Ono elementary school) says he realized it takes enormous effort to teach others, but he has a sense of accomplishment in the end.
“During 2-day Summer Intensive Lesson, I had an opportunity to teach and assist two of 2nd graders on basic music piece. It was difficult to have them understood at once, and I had to tell them straighten their back many times. Time flew so quickly and I came to realization that I had to be well prepared and communicate precisely to teach others. I was so happy and proud when they were able to play the piece finally!” Takayuki also says he is now more thankful for their teachers after knowing it takes enormous effort to teach.
He seems that he had blissful moment at SUMMER CONCERT IN SOMA of August 11, 2014, too. “It was thrilled to play with world known pianist Ms. Mami Hagiwara and Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra! Maximizing the potential of instrument and its sound, feeling music in harmony so closely is unforgettable experience. I am very thankful to be a member of El Sistema Japan, and I want to practice harder to challenge more music piece.” Takayuki tells us with bright smile.
While we encourage children to work on music skills, we also focus on peer learning experience which is one of the El Sistema’s core values; students mentor each other, share their knowledge and skills. It is our belief that it leads children to develop critical life skills and contribute social development in Soma where more than 4,000 children and their families still suffer from traumatic stress caused by earthquake and tsunami, as well as the subsequent nuclear accident.
Thanks to GlobalGiving donors, more than 180 children are joyfully participating El Sistema inspired music education program now, and ever more we feel it is necessary toexpand the program to reach out more children in needs to support their lives. For every child’s bright future, in music, we trust. Your continuous support and kind attention is greatly appreciated.
Ayuka experienced a lot of difficulties after her house near the coast was swept away by the tsunami resulting from the East Japan Great Earthquake, and moved to inland areas within Soma in 2011. In order to cope with new school environment, she joined the school strings band and became to love do playing viola. Fortunately, with the supports from El Sistema Japan, the band, which used to be in a difficult situation due to lack of instruments and qualified instructors, was revitalized.Today, through her participation in string band activity, she now enjoys playing the viola above all things with a newly established Soma Children's Orchestra and Chorus.
"What I felt after performing at the El Sistema music learning was really amazing. The music was so different between the beginning and end. The crescendo helped me imagine the flow of music and it changed the music totally, which was moving. Also, I felt like I became closer with my friends when we played the game in the beginning in which we held hands together. My heart was filled with so much gratitude for giving us the opportunity to perform. Since you let us learn music, next time we hope to repay. I am thankful for a great opportunity to play music with friends."
Please look at the smiles of roughly 70 children ranging from advanced junior high school students to kindergarden kids who, for the first time, touched violins only 3 days ago. They managed to play Mussorgsky's Great Gate of Kiev in pride and confidence at our special concert after the 3 day intensive summer class with our Venezuelan teachers.
I was thrilled with the fact that a music composed by a Russian and arranged by a French which is now performed by those children as well as Venezuelan and Japanese teachers. Music can indeed unite us!
Mr. Tachiya, the Mayor of Soma City, who kindly attended this concert despite his busy schedule, told us that his dream is to realise the city environment where any child can freely play a music.
Also, it was really a heart-warming to see their parents who really enjoyed the music perfumed by their children. A grandparents seriously mentioned, "we have to keep fit until we see Soma Children's Orchestra's concert!".
So, Friends of El Sistema Japan feels a honor to be part of this reconstruction process in Soma where a lot of challenges are all over.
I would really express my gratitude to all who worked hard to make this happen and in particular to Fernando who brought me this idea back in January 2012. Million thanks!!
Herewith our PR video on you tube:
NHK WOLRD special coverage was eventually broadcasted. You can watch the movie titled under Road Ahead: Unity Through Music on the URL below;
Indeed mother of Sachi, who had an interview told us;
"After 3.11, our life was going on without music. Then, when listening her song, I felt the power of music and could have a relaxed and comfortable feeling which I had never had in those days. I do hope children have the opportunity to continue music and everyone in the community can easily enjoy the concert where children play and sing. "
We do count on your support. Thank you.
Our first joint concert was over eventually!
I would like to express my gratitudes to school teachers, Soma education board colleagues and local volunteers working hard to prepare the event, Bridge for Fukushima, who coordinated the tour from Fukushima, our supporters who travelled from all over Japan, and, above all, young musicians from Yawata, Nakamura No.1 and Sakuragaoka Primary Schools, who had practiced hard and had a brilliant performance on the stage yesterday.
Herewith the article from the Fukushima Minpo on the concert (sorry no English...).
Please regularly check our facebook site which plugin appears on the left hand side for all the updates on Soma Children’s Orchestra as well as other El Sistema related news in Japan.
Official web site launched!
Friends of El Sistema Japan became registered as an incorporated association by Tokyo Legal Affair Bureau.
El Sistema is a social transformation programme through which over 400,000 children across Venezuela have been given music education mainly in the form of orchestra and choir with the government budget around 75 million USD for the last 36 years. Its programme impact has positively been evaluated by many donors such as UNESCO, Inter-American Development Bank and various El Sistema inspired programmes have been implemented in more than 20 different countries. Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director of LA Philharmonic and Edicson Ruiz, one of the youngest double bass players with Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra are just examples as the quality of musicians whom El Sistema has produced but it is most important to say that many have compassion on what Maestro Jose Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema has been advocating, “restoring dignity and confidence of individuals, family and community through music education.”
Core principles of El Sistema are as follows;
1. Ensuring everyone to have access to music and arts regardless of his or her economic status.
2. Enhancing communication skills of children through music and arts activities, in particular, orchestra ensemble.
3. Letting children to learn that self-realisation can conform with social norm through music experience
In order to start this music education initiative aiming at restoring disadvantaged Japanese children’s dignity and making a significant and sustaining impact on their lives, Friends of El Sistema Japan has been established with various forms of support from inside and outside Japan. This includes the world-famous Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, members of Berlin Philharmonic, several El Sistema USA and Scotland leaders and, above all, KAJIMOTO, who has been working very hard to sensitise the Japanese public on El Sistema through many channels such as organising Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra’s first tour to Japan back in 2008, strategically positioning a partnership with Talent Education Research Institute (Suzuki Method) together with Venezuelan Embassy in Tokyo.