MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- The Chugoku Shikoku Defense Bureau with co-sponsorship of the Iwakuni City Government, Iwakuni City Board of Education and Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, held the 2015 U.S.-Japan Friendship Concert inside the Sinfonia Iwakuni Concert Hall, Feb. 14, 2015.
The purpose behind the event was to provide an opportunity for interaction between local residents and U.S. military members.
The Ministry of Defense’s goal was for attendees to gain an understanding and to cooperate with neighbors and local residents in the vicinity of the air station. MOD believes it is vital to deepen mutual understanding between local residents and U.S. armed forces in order to achieve a goal of stable relationships between both parties.
“This event took months of planning and hard work,” said Allen Strawbridge, the music director for M.C. Perry High School. “I know both the Japanese and my students put in a tremendous amount of effort to ensure the performances were outstanding.”
As part of the event, attendees witnessed the pieces from: the M.C. Perry Schools, the Iwakuni Municipal Iwakuni Elementary School, the Iwakuni Municipal Higashi Junior High School, the Domu Otake City Japanese Drums Organization, the Waki Municipal Waki Elementary School and the Suo-Oshima Municipal Agenoshou Elementary School.
Strawbridge said he always enjoys participating in the concert with his students because the local Iwakuni residents always show incredible support by providing a large turn out to the event.
“This is a great experience for the kids,” said Hiroyuki Hattori, a music teacher with Waki Elementary School. “It’s not every day that they receive the opportunity to perform in front of such a large audience.”
With approximately 200 students taking part in the concert, Hattori said for those participating for the first time, it was a bit of an astonishing moment for them to walk on stage and see the large crowd.
“This was also my first time being part of an event like this,” said Hattori. “I’m not going to lie it was a bit overwhelming at first, in my mind I was thinking, ‘Are my students ready? Did I teach them enough?’ but when I saw them on stage I knew all the hard work paid off.”
According to both Strawbridge and Hattori, the friendship concert was a great success.
Hattori said that he looks forward to being part of the concert for years to come, adding that the best way to break borders and build bonds is through music.