IWAKUNI CITY, Japan --
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni students united with local Japanese students for the eighth annual U.S.-Japan Friendship Concert at the Sinfonia Iwakuni Concert Hall in Iwakuni City, Japan, Feb. 24, 2018.
The event allowed students from different cultures to come together to perform and have the opportunity to build a connection through music, despite the language barrier.
Yoshihiko Fukuda, mayor of Iwakuni City, and U.S. Marine Corps Col. Richard F. Fuerst, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and Masahiro Akase, director general of the Chugoku-Shikoku Defense Bureau, gave opening speeches and talked about how hard the students worked leading up to the concert.
“I know your parents, friends and family are as proud of you as I am,” said Fuerst. “I know a lot went into this concert. There were many individual practices but only one joint practice, so it threw them a little bit of a curveball this year, and they had to overcome another obstacle.”
Fuerst added that he hoped the event would be a great experience for the students and that they would long remember the event.
The Takamori Elementary School band performed “My Neighbor Totoro” and “Amazing Grace” for their first appearance at the concert. The students collaborated with Iwakuni Elementary School to perform for the audience.
Students from the Waki Municipal Junior High School brass band performed traditional Japanese songs like “Concert March” and “Treasure Island.”
Iwakuni Middle School students hit the stage with a tribute to the 1980s featuring music from the Eurythmics, Michael Jackson and Queen. Despite the language barrier, the audience danced and clapped to the music.
Ryota Ishio, a sixth grader with Takamori Elementary School, said the concert was fun, and he had a great time. He performed a trumpet solo and said his favorite part was participating in the song “Amazing Grace” alongside his American counterparts. Ishio added that it was a precious opportunity to work with the American students and believes it was a once in a lifetime experience.
For the finale, the students all played and sang “It’s a Small World.” All the performers came together on stage showcasing the harmony between both nations.
“Performing Japanese songs with the host nation schools is a great connection to have,” said Christopher Kimmey, music teacher with M.C. Perry and Iwakuni Elementary Schools. “They were amazing to work with.”