[SENDAI, MIYAGI, JAPAN, 22 November 2011]
On this occasion conductor Simon Rattle traveled to Japan with the Berliner Philharmoniker, which became the first arts organization ever to be assigned as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2007, to hold the TDK Orchestra Concert 2011. A day before their concert on 22 November, the wind quintet members paid a visit to the disaster area in Sendai City where they presented children with a musical present.
Despite eight months having already passed since the disaster, the group saw Arahama Primary School, located in the Wakabayashi district of Sendai City, as it stood unchanged from its state of destruction from the tsunami so long ago. They also saw nearby ruins that once served as the foundation for residential housing. The group of five winds players was at a loss of words upon seeing the sheer scale of damage, which had greatly exceeded anything they had imagined.
The gymnasium of Tsutsuji-ga-oka Primary School was host to more than 2,500 disaster victims on the day of the disaster, and it was here where the winds quintet held their mini concert. The concert was attended by all 550 students of the primary school as well as nearly 200 students from Okada Primary School, which suffered flood damage on the first floor of its building. The children enjoyed a world-class musical gift.
Speaking on behalf of the students, Yuka Nagai from Tsutsuji-ga-oka Primary School expressed the school’s gratitude for the performance. “I was very happy that after the disaster everyone in the Berliner Philharmoniker commemorated the people of Japan in various ways. With the powerful support of such a famous musical ensemble, people in the disaster areas have to come to come together to create a bridge that leads to reconstruction for the next generation. We will treasure the moments that we have and never forget the support that we receive from so many people whom we don’t even know in other countries. Thank you so much for your time today.” Next, the wife of the Miyagi Prefecture Governor delivered a celebratory message on behalf of her husband, the Governor: “Eight months have passed since the disaster, and this has hardly been an even road to recovery and reconstruction. It has been very rough for us all. I sincerely hope that today’s wonderful performance becomes a seed in the hearts of all disaster victims, further reenergizing citizens that attempt to rise again in aim of reconstruction!”
All photo credits: © Japan Committee for UNICEF