Japan: Charity Concert in Shanghai

JPY 2,984,873 for the Disaster Affected Areas
All the performers on stage as the audience applause.
On October 20th, 2011, a concert for supporting the reconstruction efforts of the areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake was held at the Lyceum Theatre in Shanghai, China. The Shanghai-based Japanese volunteer group Friend (representative: Kaoru Shinji) played a central role in setting up the concert’s organizing committee (chairperson: Hiroyoshi IKEDA, CEO, Shanghai MYTS Co. Ltd.) and hosting the concert which was named “Hope”. AAR JAPAN co-hosted the concert and Taki KATOH, AAR JAPAN’s Vice-President emceed the concert. A total of eight musicians came together to support the cause. The 680-seat hall was virtually full and the concert ended in great success. JPY 2,984,873 in proceeds will go towards installing playground equipment for the children from Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture living in temporary housing. We extend our sincere gratitude to the audience, the performers and all those who were involved in making this event a great success.

The following is a report on the concert from Mariko SUGANUMA, member of the concert committee and Board of Directors of AAR JAPAN in Shanghai.

Eight Musicians Rally Together to Give Support
 The 680-seat historic Lyceum Theatre built in 1930 was virtually full.
The concert started with a moment of silence. The passionate and heartfelt performance by eight musicians that followed touched the audience. Part 1 entitled “Prayer” started with a performance by two young Chinese viola players, Nian LIU and Li CHEN. This was followed by Mayumi OGAWA, active both in and out of China, on the piano and George MAXIM, concertmaster of a Canadian symphony orchestra, on the violin. Part 2 entitled “Hope” was started by Hiromi NAKAMIZO, a Japan-based jazz singer, and Akiko KUMAKURA, a young talented Shanghai-based pianist. They were followed by a husband and wife violin piano duet byYinlin PAN, the chief concertmaster of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra and Vice-chairman of the Chinese Violin Association, and Jingrong LEI, his pianist wife.

Shanghai Chorus Platanus and the gospel group J. Voice sang “Miageto Goran Yoruno Hoshiwo” at the finale. The concert came to a close with the audience joining in to sing “Furusato,” (birthplace or hometown) a song that has a special place in the hearts all Japanese. It was a moment when our hearts came together for the reconstruction efforts.

An Account from a Teacher from the Disaster Affected Areas
The assistant principal, Takashi HINO, from Iinokawa First Primary School in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, talked about the current situation. (On the left is Taki KATOH, Vice-President of AAR JAPAN)
In Part 2 of the concert, Takashi HINO, an assistant principal from Iinokawa First Primary School in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, was invited to talk. We felt that bringing a first-hand account was especially important at this time when people’s interests were beginning to wane seven months on from the earthquake. We wanted the audience to feel more connected with the people of the disaster-struck areas. Mr. HINO spoke about the current situation and how the children were affected. He ended his talk by expressing his gratitude toward the people of Shanghai and emphasizing the importance of a society with a spirit of helping each other.

Overcoming Obstacles
The husband and wife collaboration: Yinlin PAN, the chief concertmaster of Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, and his wife and pianist, Jingrong LEI.
This was the first concert by a Japanese volunteer organization for supporting the reconstruction efforts of the regions affected by the East Japan Earthquake. It was a landmark event in that the proceeds from the concert were donated to a civilian NPO. Many hurdles and challenges had to be overcome along the way. In China, various limitations are imposed on holding charity events, such as restrictions on volunteer organizations renting a hall, receiving donations and transferring money overseas. It was when we were in a very challenging situation when the Shanghai Youth Development Foundation stepped in and offered us assistance. They had previously collaborated with Friend – “Friend has given the children of China support. Now it is our turn to give a lending hand to the children of Japan.” It was this Foundation’s support which propelled the plan to host a concert forward.

The Foundation was a public-interest organization run by the Communist Youth League of China. With the help of the Foundation, many hurdles were overcome – the paperwork required by Shanghai and the money transfer to AAR JAPAN went smoothly. The official receipt for the contributions and donations which is essential in filing tax returns was issued swiftly thanks to their support and advice.

Ticket Sales and Enlarging the Circle of Support
“I would like to heal the heart and bring peace of mind to the people affected,” says George MAXIM who responded readily to the call to participate. Mayumi OGAWA on the piano.
Even with the Foundation’s support, however, organizing such an event for the first time was no easy task. In China ticket sales cannot start before the final approval of the event by the authorities. Even after we started publicizing the event, we had to anxiously wait for permission to start selling the tickets. It was not until mid-September that we finally got the go ahead.

The chairman of the Concert Organization Committee, Hiroyoshi IKEDA, led the effort to call upon organizations for their support and cooperation. The generous support received from numerous organizations was essential components in making this concert happen. An offer to cover the costs for the concert came from ShanghaiRinnai Co. Ltd.. Assisting ticket sales and finding other organizations willing to give support was enthusiastically taken on by Shanghai MYTS Co. Ltd.. Accommodation for guests was provided by Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai. Ticket sales were assisted by Yamato International Shanghai. The piano was lent by YAMAHA. The flowers for the stage, the food for the members of staff – so many things were provided by so many organizations.

The Performers and Audience Come Together
Hiromi NAKAMIZO, a jazz singer based in Japan, touched the audience with her performance of “Amazing Grace.”
People came up to us after the concert saying, “Thank you for organizing such a wonderful concert,” “I couldn’t stop crying.” We also heard people say “I think our thoughts will reach the areas that have been affected,” “The Chinese people will continue to support the people of Japan” and “I now see that the people still need our support.” The thoughts were different, but it was an evening when everyone’s hearts were with the people in the affected areas.
Staying Connected
The Shanghai Chorus Platanus, the members of the gospel group J. Voice and the audience joined in a chorus of “Furusato”. 
The concert in Shanghai is over, but the situation in the regions affected is still very difficult. I sincerely hope that through music we were able to strengthen the connection with the people in the disaster affected regions. I would like to end by paying my respects for those who have passed away – may their souls rest in peace. I also pray for those who are in the midst of the ongoing rebuilding efforts. 

Mariko SUGANUMA, Board of Director of AAR JAPAN
After graduating university, worked at private company and worked at Zambia Office of AAR JAPAN from 1991 to 1993. While working in Zambia, put together a book “LOVE LOVE AFRICA!” (Japan Educational Press) and the book was chosen as the JLA (Japan Library Association) Selected Book. Since June 2009, became a board of director of AAR JAPAN. Currently, lives in Shanghai supporting charity group “Friend” which aims to help children with economic difficulties go to school and learn in the better environment. Has two children.