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Conductor leads student orchestra in quake-hit area

Conductor Yutaka Sado directs an orchestra on the Nehama Beach in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, on Aug. 9. (Eijiro Morii)
(Conductor Yutaka Sado directs an orchestra on the Nehama Beach in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture.)

KAMAISHI, Iwate Prefecture--When Maestro Yutaka Sado assembled a "Superkids Orchestra" to pay homage to victims of the March 11 disaster, he chose a spot much beloved by residents of this quake-ravaged area: a pine forest on Nehama Beach.
This well-known scenic spot was transformed by the March 11 disaster. The beach is strewn with debris from the tsunami, and many trees were uprooted.
"I want to perform music that mourns the loss of life and helps people in their prayers for the recovery of affected areas," Sado, 50, said before the Aug. 9 event.
Sado is artistic director at the Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. The Superkids Orchestra comprises 32 members, ranging from elementary school pupils to senior high school students.
The orchestra performed four pieces, among them Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air on the G String" and "Furusato," a traditional Japanese song whose title means hometown.
Some members of the audience became tearful during the concert.
Afterward, the orchestra and audience members observed a moment of silence as they turned their collective gaze toward the sea.
Nehama Beach was known for its pristine white sand and green pine trees. Now, the 2-kilometer-long beach resembles a disaster zone.

After the earthquake, Sado said he was overcome by a feeling of powerlessness.
That jolted him into action.
He decided he wanted "to do something useful for" the survivors of this unprecedented national tragedy.
He recalled receiving a letter from Akiko Iwasaki, 55, owner of the Horaikan inn on Nehama Beach, around that time. She was desperate to enlist help to restore the beach to its former beauty.
Iwasaki wrote that she was carried away by the tsunami but survived. Afterward, she allowed her inn to be used as an evacuation center and threw herself into local recovery activities.
She said she had heard from an acquaintance that Sado was keen to hold a concert at Nehama Beach to pay tribute to the victims of the disaster.
(Maestro Yutaka Sado)

"Our beach was devastated," Iwasaki wrote. "But some pine trees in the forest are still standing. Also, rugosa roses have begun to bloom. It's like a miracle. It's our earnest hope that you will hold a memorial concert and take part in exchange activities with local children" during the Bon period in August to remember the dead.
Sado eagerly embraced the request. Several organizations, including a fund-raising group that is operated by the architect Tadao Ando for children who lost their parents in the disaster, offered their assistance.
Sado's concert was realized as part of the "Chinkon no Takuto Project" (Baton project for the repose of the souls of the dead), sponsored by The Asahi Shimbun.

Before the Superkids Orchestra performed "Furusato," Sado asked Iwasaki to direct the orchestra with his baton.
After the concert, he gave the baton to her, saying, "Please direct the recovery efforts of this community (with this baton)."
A message, "Baton for hope--Yutaka Sado," was written on the baton.
"I was encouraged. I have to make efforts (for the recovery) though we may have to confront any number of problems," said a tearful but smiling Iwasaki.

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By TS on Nov 26, 2011
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tag : Earthquake, Cool_Japan



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Author:T. SATOH