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Concert marks Down syndrome milestone

by Natalie Koch

Akihito Ochi is a gifted pianist. He also has Down syndrome.

He started playing piano when he was 9 years old and held his first concert at the age of 10. His mother practiced classical music pieces with him, and he eventually learned how to score music. Ochi has composed and improvised music and performed publicly since he was about age 14.

Ochi recorded his first album “Like The Sea,” in 1997, without any formal training, which was followed by “My Friend” in 2000, “A Bouquet Of People’s Gratitude” in 2004 and his most recent release, “Fly To The Sky,” in 2006. In 2004 and 2006, he also performed at World Down Syndrome Congresses in Singapore and Canada, and at EXPO 2005 in Aichi.

The concert is being held in part to mark the 50th anniversary of Dr. Jero^me Lejeune identifying the cause of Down syndrome, where children have an extra copy of chromosome 21, known as a trisomy.

Ochi’s family hopes the performance will both raise awareness of Down syndrome and serve to thank those who have supported Akihito throughout the years.

Thus, a concert by the young pianist is just what the doctor ordered.

Akihito Ochi performs Sept. 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the Yotsuya Kumin Hall in Tokyo. Tickets can be bought at convenience stores or via Ticket Pia at www.t.pia.jp. Advance tickets cost ¥2,000 for adults and ¥1,000 for junior high school students or younger. Tickets at the door cost ¥2,500 for adults and ¥1,500 for junior high school students or younger. People with disabilities can get tickets for ¥1,000 in advance or at the door.