The TOMODACHI Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta Program Concludes After Performing to an Audience of Nearly 2,000 at Symphony Hall in Boston
Nearly fifty members of the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta (FYS), a young orchestra comprised of middle school and high school students from ten schools in Fukushima City, traveled to Boston from March 26 to April 4, 2016 on the TOMODACHI Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta Program for what became a life-changing experience, both for the students themselves and for the many Bostonians who met with them. The culmination of the program was a magnificent concert on April 3 in Boston’s renowned Symphony Hall, where the students performed a program of challenging works by Mozart, Barber, Glinka, Elgar and Rachmaninoff to an audience of nearly 2,000 enthusiastic Bostonians. At the end of the performance, the orchestra received a 15-minute standing ovation, bringing the performers and many audience members to tears. The excitement and elation of the event left no doubt that the young members of the FYS had found their way into the hearts of the people of Boston.
The concert at Boston’s Symphony Hall followed more than a week of meetings and exchanges with Boston students and youth orchestras that generated new friendships, exchanges, and invitations to meet again. The students were greeted personally by Governor Charlie Baker and invited to tour the Massachusetts State House to experience the life of a state legislator from a seat in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. From there, the participants visited the Boston Arts Academy (an inner-city school that features performing arts as part of its core curriculum) and toured Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox, where “Boston ni Yokoso (Welcome to Boston)” flashed in their honor on the big baseball scoreboard.
Other highlights of the week included a “Duck Tour” to historic sites and on the Charles River; a festive lobster dinner at the invitation of Legal Seafoods; visits to private homes and to the Museum of Fine Arts; a mini-performance at Boston Higashi School (a school for children with autism); a meeting with Tiger Okoshi, virtuoso jazz trumpet artist at Berklee College of Music and an exchange of ideas with Japanese students currently at Berklee on TOMODACHI fellowships; a walking tour of Chinatown and an evening at the theater with Blue Man Group. Alongside the fun and festivities were intensive daily rehearsals, including a joint rehearsal with one of Boston’s leading youth orchestras at the New England Conservatory, which led to an invitation for the American orchestra to visit Fukushima as part of a forthcoming performance tour in Japan. Every day, bright new friendships flowered and new musical relationships were explored. The TOMODACHI spirit infused every moment of the students’ experience and the students flew back to Fukushima feeling that their lives had changed, eager to one day return to the United States or welcome their new American friends into their own homes in Japan.
This program is possible by TOMODACHI’s Fund for Exchanges through generous contributions from Toyota Motor Corporation, Mitsubishi Corporation, and Hitachi, Ltd.
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