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Music for Fukushima youths

August 18, 2015

Led by Greek-born pianist, Fukushima student orchestra set to debut in Tokyo


Music for Fukushima youths

By JUNKO YOSHIDA/ Senior Staff Writer

When Greek concert pianist Panos Karan performed for evacuees following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, he received a renewed awareness of the power of music.

He said he came to know anew the importance of music to humans after seeing students trying to practice, despite the extent of the suffering they were experiencing.

Those visits led Karan to help found the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta, consisting of 51 students from seven junior high and high schools in the prefecture.

The orchestra will perform its first concert in Tokyo on Aug. 20 at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in Shinjuku Ward.

Karan will join the young musicians in performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The students will also perform pieces by Bach, Sibelius and Elgar.

Tetsuji Honna, a conductor based in Vietnam and originally from Fukushima Prefecture, will direct the concert.

The Britain-based Karan, 32, formed a connection with Fukushima after he visited there in the summer of 2011, shortly after the triple disasters, at the invitation of his Japanese friends.

Karan played the piano at temporary housing for evacuees and hospitals to encourage the affected people.

Since then, Karan has visited the prefecture with his music colleagues every six months to work with the local students.

He also arranged a joint concert in London by the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta and the renowned Orpheus Sinfonia in March 2014 through the participation of 37 Fukushima students.

Karan said he realized that healing emotional scars left by the disaster will take a lot longer than rebuilding the stricken communities, citing a female student of the orchestra who sobbed convulsively backstage after the concert.

The girl, who was a leader among the students, had rarely shown signs of despondency until then, always appearing cheerful.

Karan said while some children may appear fine on the surface, they may have been unable to envision a life beyond the disaster. He would like them to derive the strength to overcome their difficulties by playing music together, he added.


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