MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Students from Matthew C. Perry Schools and students from local schools participated in the 2014 U.S.-Japan Friendship Concert that took place inside the Iwakuni Sinfonia Feb. 15, 2014.
The friendship concert gave American and Japanese children an opportunity to strengthen cultural ties between the countries’ younger generations.
“We’ve been planning this for the past year, since the last one ended,” said Christopher Kimmey, M. C. Perry Elementary School music teacher. “It’s just a great experience. We get to sing American songs and then we sing Japanese songs with our Japanese friends, so it’s an unbelievable performance opportunity for the students and also a cultural opportunity as well.”
The concert started with opening remarks from Takafumi Fujii, the Chugoku-Shikoku Defense Bureau director general, Yoshihiko Fukuda, the Iwakuni city mayor, and Col. Robert Boucher, the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni.
“I would like to thank everyone who had a hand in sponsoring, planning for and putting on this concert,” said Boucher. “I’m very proud of what the students have achieved over the past month. I’m also certain that the experiences they shared at the joint rehearsals and in today’s concert will last their whole lifetimes. Their musical harmony, in many ways, symbolizes the international harmony that exists between our two cultures and this experience will foster growth in the community and expand the global vision of all its participants.”
While most of the time the performers spend together is focused on practicing, enough time is allotted to allow for bonding moments in other ways as well.
“We don’t just perform together, but we also have a gathering afterwards where we have snacks,” said Kimmey. “We’re over here in Japan, so why not do it, if everyone is willing to come together and use music as a universal language, then why not?”
The concert began with a drum performance between M.C. Perry students and the Iwakuni Municipal Hashirano Elementary School, in which they played the drum title “Yakushin.”
Other popular titles featured in the concert were “A Whole New World,” “We Are the World” and a joint performance of “Sukiyaki.”
This concert marks the fourth rendition of the U.S.-Japan Friendship Concert, which first started in 2011.