Japan Benefit Concert Raises Funds and Spirits

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Author: Cordelia Kenney

The music department hosted a benefit concert for the earthquake and tsunami victims in Japan this past Saturday in Bird Studio, thanks to the organizational efforts of professor Yuri Inoo. The concert featured artists from around the Los Angeles area who volunteered their talent for the concert.  

The two-hour program featured Naoko Takada on the marimba, Robin Sharp on percussion, the Vertical Four Bassoon Quartet, harpists Allison Allport and Allison Bjorkedal, Professor Inoo on the snare drum and marimba, Junko Ueno Garrett on the piano and Trio X on strings.

Inoo had been working on this benefit concert since the earthquake about a month ago. She had a short time to plan and prepare for this event. “A month is a fairly short time to plan for something like this, but everything came together perfectly,” she said.

All the musicians involved helped to make the program a complete success. She asked the participating musicians to choose songs that were upbeat and positive so that the concert did not have a somber tone.

Indeed, from composer Andrew Norman’s “The Companion Guide to Rome” played by Trio X to Morten Lauridsen’s “O Magunum Mysterium” played by Naoko Takada and Inoo on the marimbas, the music had an energetic and simultaneously meditative quality.

Pianist Junko Ueno Garrett emphasized that she chose to perform “Aqua” and “Intermezzeo” because they are both by Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. She explained that although she has been in America for many years, she still feels the impact of this tragedy on her home country and still identifies as a Japanese woman.

Although several of the performing musicians had events elsewhere directly afterward, all were eager to help join in an opportunity to fundraise for Japan, Inoo explained. Outside of Bird Studio, two members of Occidental’s Drum Line collected donations in two large drums before the concert began.

Along with the program for the concert, Inoo compiled a list of websites and organizations that are also accepting donations for aid in Japan, including information about the Japanese Consulate in Los Angeles as well as other music for Japan.

More musical events intended to raise money for the victims in Japan will happen throughout this region.

For instance, this upcoming Saturday, April 23, Inoo will participate in another benefit concert in Little Tokyo.

For the closing piece of the concert, Inoo and Takada performed “Departure” by Emmanuel Sejourne on the marimbas. In her closing remarks, Inoo encouraged the audience to seek other ways to help in the efforts to rebuild in Japan. “They’re going to need help for a long time,” she said.

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