IWAKUNI CITY, Japan -- Matthew C. Perry Elementary and High School students played instruments and sang songs in celebration of the U.S. and Japan’s friendship in the 6th Annual Friendship Concert alongside students of the Iwakuni community at the Sinfonia Iwakuni Concert Hall, Iwakuni City, Japan, Feb. 20, 2016.
Before the concert commenced, Takahiro Sugawara, director general of Chugoku-Shikoku Defense Bureau, Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni City, and Col. Robert V. Boucher, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, thanked the audience for their attendance and the students for all their hard work.
Yoshitaka Takebayashi, spokesperson of the Chugoku Shikoku Defense Bureau said the concert aims to bring the air station and community closer together for a brighter future.
“As the chief of CSDB said earlier today, we have been hosting this concert since 2009 to help MCAS Iwakuni and the surrounding neighbors get to know each other better, and deepen the mutual understanding of each other,” said Takebayashi. “Through cultural exchange events such as this concert, I think we can have the perspective of a brightened future between Japan and the U.S.”
As elementary students from each school took the stage, M.C. Perry Elementary students sang “All You Need is Love” by John Lennon and “Sakura Sakura,” a traditional Japanese folk song.
Following them, Hashirano Elementary School played “Hibiki” on the taiko drums and concluded with a collaborated performance with M.C. Perry Elementary and Migama Elementary.
Waki Elementary’s band joined in with their rendition of “Man of La Mancha” by Mitch Leigh then teamed with M.C. Perry Elementary for a joint performance of “Kaze ni Naritai” by Kazufumi Miyazawa.
Moe Kawamura, Waki Elementary School, 6th grader said she found the experience both fun and educational.
“I felt accomplished after I finished my performance,” said Kawamura. “I don’t get many opportunities to interact with Americans so this was a very enlightening experience. I’m glad I got to be a part of this.”
With the elementary schools’ show over, the high schools took charge of the concert with Otake Junior High School playing “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” Kawashimo Junior High School with “Little Mermaid,” and M.C. Perry High School with “A City Called Heaven,” “You Are Not Alone,” and “Anasananzi.”
For the grand finale, all the schools took the stage and sang “Circle of life” by Elton John.
Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Foster, an aircrew survival equipment man, said he was very proud of his child and all the other children who worked so hard to put together this show.
“I think these kids did outstanding,” said Foster. “They sound much better than I had expected. I think it’s important for our young ones to come together and celebrate the music of different countries. I can’t wait to come again next year.”