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Charity concert raises money for orphans

by Minoru Matsutani

Students at Tokyo International School, from preschool through the eighth grade, showed off their talent at the TIS Charity Concert on April 24 to raise money for orphans and foster children in Japan.

Wearing costumes, the children sang, danced and performed plays for the 800-strong audience.

The eighth annual concert, held at Curian Hall near JR Oimachi Station in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo, raised ¥548,440 from those attending, most of whom were parents and guardians of the students.

“I loved it. It was so colorful. Children had fun. We had a ball,” said Demet San, a mother from Turkey with two daughters, in grades 3 and 7.

Older daughter Zeyn said: “I really enjoyed it. We practiced a long time. It was very fun. We almost gave up but made it in the end. I’m very happy with my performance.”

The TIS choir kicked off the concert, which was free and open to the public. TIS cofounder Patrick Newell followed with a speech praising the students for their hard work to prepare for the event and introduced his nonprofit organization Living Dreams, which raises money via the concert and other methods to support orphanages in Japan.

Preschoolers read poems, sang and ran around in a chain performing “The Choo-Choo Train.” Then, kindergartners acted out “Who’s Afraid of the Big Sad Wolf” — a version in which the pigs make friends with the poor wolves who cry because they can’t blow down their brick houses.

First-graders gave a demonstration of how water circulates, from rain to tiny steam particles evaporated from seawater to make clouds in “Water, Water Everywhere.” Second-graders, dressed as hippos, elephants, giraffes and other animals, played “Welcome to the Jungle.”

Third-graders performed traditional Japanese “Awa Odori” and “Tokyo Ondo” dances and a hip-hop version of “Soran Bushi.” A string band then followed with a variety of tunes, from traditional nursery rhymes such as “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to Bach concertos.

Eighth-graders ended the show’s first half with a scene from “Romeo and Juliet.” During the intermission, Bert Van Haagen, a Dutch father of a fifth-grade boy, said: “I like especially the singing and dancing. It’s a fun event for children and adults.”

In the second half, fourth-graders performed rap and contemporary dance choreography in “Young and Positive.” After another string ensemble, fifth-graders, dressed in African tribal style, played the drums and danced in “Listen to the Drums!”

In the grand finale, middle schoolers strutted their stuff in “Passage,” a contemporary theatrical piece that combined choral singing and dance. A rock band of seventh-graders performed a song they wrote specially for the show.

After the event, Stanley Tan, a Malaysian father of three TIS students, said: “It’s a lot better than last year. More costumes and better content.”

Some children were glad it was over. A fifth-grade boy said: “The practice was boring. They cut our gym time, and if we messed up, we had to do the whole thing again.”

Of the money raised in the concert, 80 percent is allocated to Living Dreams and 20 percent to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Newell said.

“Children of TIS have raised money to build a school in Cambodia through charity concerts and other efforts. This year, children decided to focus on raising money to help orphans in Japan,” Newell said. “It is so important to involve children in giving and sharing to nurture their character.