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February 28, 2012 > One Year After: A Concert from the Heart

One Year After: A Concert from the Heart

By Janet Grant

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake shook the Tohoku region of Northeastern Japan and triggered a massive tsunami. The devastation that resulted was unimaginable; casualties in the tens of thousands, countless buildings destroyed, radiation spewing from damaged nuclear reactors, and a mass evacuation of hundreds of thousands of residents.

On Saturday, March 10, Fremont's Music at the Mission in collaboration with Design2Market marks the one-year anniversary of the worst natural disaster in the history of Japan with "One Year After: A Benefit Concert for the Children of Tohoku, Japan." It is estimated that it will take over ten years and billions of dollars to rebuild the areas affected in the Tohoku region. In addition to over 200 children orphaned in the disaster, thousands of children lost their homes, schools, and other belongings. This benefit concert is an opportunity to support the relief efforts in the Tohoku area, and help aid the children of the region.

Music at the Mission, a non-profit classical chamber music series and Design2Market, a Silicon Valley-based design firm are co-producing the benefit concert to raise monies for the "Smiles & Dreams: Tohoku Kids' Support Project." The concert will be held in historic Old Mission San Jose and features the internationally renowned Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble and the Music at the Mission Chamber Players as well as mixed media artist Kathy Fujii-Oka, and as Master of Ceremonies, Mike Inouye of NBC Bay Area. The Consul General of Japan, Hiroshi Inomata will also be in attendance as an honored guest.

History will be made at Saturday's benefit concert, as the thunderous beat of taiko drums will be heard for the first time in the historic Mission. "Taiko" means drum, and in Japan is associated with the cycles of nature and the celebration of life. Taiko is much more than just an instrument however, and the actual drums are treated with great respect. It is believed that the spirits of all who contributed to the creation of the drum are embodied within it; the drummer when striking it gives voice to these spirits, releasing them from silence and in a sense, giving them new life.

Somei Yoshino Taiko Ensemble is a thrilling and revolutionary taiko group who's not afraid to push the boundaries of drumming or challenge conventional taiko style. They will provide an exciting and synergistic partnership to the provocative and dynamic sounds of the Music at the Mission Chamber Players.
In addition to the concert, the "One Year After: One thousand Cranes Project" has been actively underway. For the past few weeks, adults, schoolchildren, high-schoolers from throughout the East Bay, South Bay, and Peninsula, and college students from as far away as Helena, Montana, have been folding lots and lots of cranes. Origami cranes are symbols of peace and luck, and the Japanese tradition of folding one thousand cranes "are believed to bring a wish of those who make [them] to those who receive," said Nobuko Nakajima, a co-coordinator of the project and herself a native of Fukushima, an area hard hit by the disaster.
When all the cranes are collected, they will be strung together in sets of one thousand and displayed at the March 10 event. And as part of the pre-event activities, origami crane folding will be demonstrated and concert goers will be encouraged to write notes of support and fold their own cranes to be sent on to the children in Japan.

Steve Yamaguma, Founder and President of Design2Market commented, "At this one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan it is important to remember that it is the children that will be affected for years to come. It is heart warming to see our community rally together and support this great cause."

On Saturday, pre-event activities will begin at 6 p.m. at the Mission, with the concert at 7 p.m., followed by a reception and silent auction at Mission Coffee Roasting Company where the artwork of Kathy Fujii-Oka will also be on display.

Sponsorships for the benefit are still available and volunteers are still needed.

For more information, visit Tickets are available online for $35 for adults, $25 students and seniors, and $5 for children under 12.

One Year After: A Benefit Concert for the Children of Tohoku, Japan
Saturday, Mar 10
6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Old Mission San Jose
43300 Mission Blvd., Fremont

Reception and silent auction following concert
Mission Coffee Roasting Company
151 Washington Blvd. (across from the Mission)

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