The TOMODACHI Very Young Composers Fukushima-New York Program promotes meaningful cultural exchange through the exploration of musical ideas, while promoting Very Young Composers as a pedagogical method in Japan. It is part of the Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program, which puts professional musicians at the service of children’s imaginations. For twenty years in New York, and now in countries around the world, thousands of children have developed confidence and leadership skills, in addition to their musical accomplishments, and some have embarked on musical careers having been inspired to follow their musical aspirations. The collaboration with children in Fukushima comes about through the work of Prof. Takehito Shimazu, a composer, university professor, and middle school principal who himself teaches young composers in Fukushima.
The program benefits children in Tohoku by advancing learning and awareness across cultures, a critical issue for the next generation of leaders in Japan and throughout the world, all while telling a positive story of children building a future for themselves, and for music.
TOMODACHI Very Young Composers Fukushima-New York Program 2015
From March 19-26, 2015, the TOMODACHI Very Young Composers Fukushima-New York Program was held in New York City, bringing Japanese and American children (aged 10-15) together to communicate through the language of live symphonic music. The participants of the program included nine children from Japan, nine Americans and one Finnish composer.
Since October 2014, these 19 talented children have been exchanging short compositions as “musical postcards” based on the folksong “chou‐cho” (butterfly), evoking a conceptual theme of “rebirth.” During the week in New York, the young composers continued to work on their pieces with support from Philharmonic Teaching Artists and Philharmonic musicians. A live, public performance of the children’s compositions were presented by a chamber ensemble of Philharmonic musicians at a public concert and reception on March 24, 2015. Read More>>
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Selected Student Profiles
Fourteen years old, Aika likes photography, animation, music, and history. She is eager to see the Metropolitan Museum, the Cloisters, and other cultural institutions and establishments in New York. After the 3.11 earthquake, Aika’s family evacuated to Aizuwakamatsu (100km west of Fukushima City), but returned to their hometown at the beginning of the school year.
Thirteen years old, Karin was among the young composers whose music the New York Philharmonic played on Young People’s Concerts in New York and Tokyo in 2014. She was paired with Julia Arancio, of New York. Hearing of the dangers from the nuclear reactors, the family temporarily evacuated Karin to Saitama and Tokyo for two weeks. After that, to avoid any threat of radiation, they sent her to her uncle’s in Seattle for three weeks.
Thirteen years old, Yusuke likes to play the piano, but is also good at basketball, baseball, and track & field. Right after the earthquake, his family, including his grandparents, evacuated to Yonezawa City in Yamagata Prefecture where they stayed through the summer. Since returning to Fukushima, due to the threat of radiation, they restrict their time outdoors.
Voices of the TOMODACHI Generation
“My dream has always been to hear the New York Philharmonic play – and now they play MY piece! – wonderful!!” – Yusuke Aoyagi (age 13)
“Everything we have done this week is a great experience. It shows there are no borders in music…[W]hen the musicians played my piece, it was a very emotional feeling for me.” – Eijun Tsutsumi (age 13)
“This will affect the composing of music in the future. It is amazing that children can compose such music at this age, and even earlier. I was impressed with the workshops, and also with the Very Young People’s Concert.” – Koki Miyazawa (chaperone)
This program is funded by TOMODACHI’s Fund for Exchanges through generous contributions from Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Hitachi, Ltd.