The Michinoku Wind Orchestra made up of 126 students from junior and senior high schools from Miyagi Prefecture, recently played at the Suntory Hall for a charity event. This one-off event was in aid of young musicians who were victims of last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake. Besides people, homes and businesses, the earthquake and tsunami claimed a huge booty of musical instruments, rendering many musicians helpless.
One of the most affected were school children who played in the school bands. In a heart-warming event, an email came in for the Miyagi Band Association, offering the donation of music instruments. This kicked off the Miyagi Prefecture Instrument Bank, which accepts musical instrument donations and supports activities for schools in need by delivering donated instruments.
Benefactors include nonprofit organization Musicians without Borders, led by singer Mayo Shono, and Carnival Company. Carnival Company is a group organized by clarinet player Keiichi Hashizume and his wife, music producer Eriko Shiomi. Akiko Kono, programming director at Suntory Hall approached Shiomi and asked how they could help in their endeavor. And with Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund (Sylff) sending out feelers for help, things looked bigger and brighter for the music students of Miyagi.
Tokyo Foundation and Suntory Hall organized the special concert performed by Miyagi Prefecture students for an audience that included people who had donated instruments. It showcased what great happiness the instruments and music brought into these disaster victim’s lives.
Barli Nugent, a flutist and the assistant dean at the Julliard School in New York, put together the nine-member Sylff Chamber Ensemble, which included herself and musicians from Julliard, the Paris Conservatory and the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna. They along with the recipients of the donation drive formed the Michinoku Wind Orchestra. The orchestra played music pieces like “The Sun Will Rise Again,” composed by Philip Sparke for the victims of the Tohoku quake and “Disney Medley.” The highlight of the show was the spectacular “Prism Rhapsody II,” composed by pioneering Japanese marimba player Keiko Abe.