The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta
The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta (福島青年管弦楽団) is one of the most positive things to emerge from the devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. Set up by UK charity Keys of Change in partnership with schools in Fukushima, initially to bring hope to the young people in the area, the orchestra has made rapid musical strides and has already performed in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (2014), Tokyo Opera City (2015), Boston Symphony Hall (2016) and Bangkok Siam Pic Ganesha Theatre (2017).
The FYS is a dynamic group of around fifty young Japanese musicians who have been coached by Keys of Change musicians over the past five years, as well as by professional musicians from the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and gifted young musicians from the prestigious Toho Gakuen Music University in Tokyo. Wherever it has performed, from Fukushima itself to London and Boston, the orchestra has enjoyed an extremely enthusiastic reception. We have repeatedly seen how the determination of the young people to create something truly excellent in the face of all kinds of adversity, coupled with their high and continually improving standard, has the power to inspire other young people and adults.
As numerous testimonies from the Fukushima students, teachers, and parents have indicated, the FYS programme has been a life-changing experience for many of the students. Playing music and developing individual musical skills helped greatly with each child’s healing process as he or she emerged from the traumas of 2011. Working together to create the orchestra and then to rehearse and perform with it brought scores of students closer together, helping them express themselves freely and overcome their inner fears, contributing hugely to their musical and personal maturity. In addition, the experience helped positively in the recovery of parents, teachers, and friends of the young musicians. In numerous ways the work of the FYS has strengthened families, schools, and communities in the Fukushima area. This sense of unity and collaboration to overcome personal and social tragedies is unmistakably communicated to anyone who hears the FYS perform.
In 2018–19 the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta performed on the stages of two of the greatest concert halls in the world. The fifty-member ensemble, made up mostly of middle and high school age musicians from the greater Fukushima area, took the stage at the Great Hall of Tokyo’s Suntory Hall on 6 August 2018 and at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre on 1 April 2019. The orchestra was joined by a number of Tokyo- and London-based musicians, respectively, for each concert, as well as international musicians and world renowned soloists and conductors, invited by Keys of Change, the UK charity behind the founding of the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta.
This two-concert project, organised by Keys of Change in collaboration with the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta, was an accumulation of two years of preparation for the Fukushima musicians, that started in the spring of 2017 in Fukushima, with performances in Minamisoma and Bangkok in the summer of the same year, before culminating in two world-class performances in Tokyo and London in 2018 and 2019. The project was supported by the Fukushima Board of Education, the Embassy of Japan in London, the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, and the CML Family Foundation, as well as numerous individuals in Fukushima, greater Japan, Bangkok, the USA, and London.
The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta, whose members carry a vision that music can change the world, received rapturous applause and raving ovations in Tokyo as well as in London, and the orchestra was featured on BBC, NHK, and Fukushima TV.
To find out about more the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta you can visit their website by clicking here.