Friendship Concert builds cultural ties through love of music
Matthew C. Perry Elementary and High School students, along with several Japanese schools, participated in the U.S.-Japan Friendship Concert, which took place inside the Sinfonia Iwakuni March 2, 2013.
The concert provided the perfect medium for American and Japanese youth to mingle and exchange the gift of culture through music.
“This was my second concert at the Sinfonia and it’s a new experience every time,” said Ashley Starnes, M. C. Perry High School student and concert participant. “I think it’s amazing two different cultures can connect through the love of music. Having the opportunity to perform and interact with other Japanese teenagers is a memory I’ll always cherish.”
The performance included a medley of famous song renditions, including the “Sohran Folk Dance,” “The Cha Cha Slide,”“Amazing Grace” and more.
“I thought this was the best (concert) so far,” said Allen Strawbridge, M.C. Perry High School music teacher. “I couldn’t be more proud of my students. “It’s a lot of hard work, but in the end, it’s worth it. And I think they get a lot out of it too.”
The concert’s final piece was a joint performance by all the students of The Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” further enforcing the concert’s influence on strengthening intercultural bonds.
“I think it’s amazing we don’t speak the same language, but music is so universal that we’re able to perform together,” said Strawbridge.“When I direct a big group of Japanese people, they don’t understand what I’m saying, but they know music.”
While the musical performance kept many in attendance occupied for the duration of the concert, the musicians and their audience had time afterward
to celebrate and recap the day’s events.
“My favorite part of the concert is the banquet afterwards,” said Starnes. “While everyone is eating, we gather in small circles on the floor and introduce
ourselves. While conversing, photos are taken, names are exchanged, and there’s laughter throughout the room. It’s the best part.”
This is the third Friendship Concert to take place in Iwakuni. While the first and third took place in the Sinfonia, the second concert took place inside the Iwakuni Civic Hall.