The Tohoku disaster, memorialized by its date “3/11,” proved to be one of the most trying times in Japanese history. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters that occurred on March 11, 2011 devastated the country, especially those living in Fukushima.
With the perseverance so essential to Japanese culture, the citizens of Fukushima refused to have their spirits broken in the aftermath of the devastation. From the disaster came the rise of the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta. The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta is composed of young Japanese musicians from middle schools in Fukushima City. These students found solace and healing in the creation of music. With great passion, they practiced their instruments for months until achieving perfection. Their music has proved to be more than pleasant rhythms: it is a symbol of strength and hope.
The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta took their talents to Boston Symphony Hall recently in an event made possible by the the TOMODACHI Initiative of the U.S.-Japan Council, Japan Society of Boston, Keys of Change, the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, and the Consulate General of Japan in Boston.
The performance began with a videoclip of the Japanese students visiting Boston for the first time. Images flickered across the screen of the students excitedly exploring the city of Boston and learning about its history. Being a part of the Sinfonietta has allowed the youth to visit places they had never been to before, and see the world while sharpening their craft.
Speeches of reflection and gratitude were given before the performance, setting the mood for what would be a night full of emotional energy. Speakers included Panos Karan, founder of the non-profit organization Keys Of Change that works to bring music to those living in difficult circumstances across the globe.
All eyes followed the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta as they took the stage. Brilliant notes filled every inch of Symphony Hall, the music as lively as the spirits of those creating it. It was hard to believe that the larger-than-life sounds being heard were coming from the children on stage. The beautiful and moving music played as a testament to how far these youth had come since the Tohoku disaster.
For some, the night ended with tears. For most, the night ended in roaring applause and standing ovation. For all, it ended with hope.
Only this was not an ending – this was a beginning. The beginning of the triumph of the survivors of 3/11, their energy channeled into profound music being played across the world.
“You were Boston Strong – now we are Japan Strong!”