Artists continue to provide helping hand in disaster zone

Kyodo

As reconstruction work drags on in the northeast, musicians and artists from overseas have continued to extend a helping hand to the victims of the 2011 quake and tsunami.

At some events, the aid goes beyond giving concerts or staging exhibitions. For example, when members of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra visited Miyagi Prefecture in early November, they gave a music lesson to the local youth orchestra.

About 120 members of the junior orchestra practiced the ballet score “Sylvia” by French composer Leo Delibes.

“The strings are being overwhelmed by the volume from the wind instruments,” Gerald Schubert, a 56-year-old violinist with the philharmonic, instructed them at one point, telling the strings to play louder.

“I feel fortunate to be able to be taught by these people who I only saw on TV before,” said Kanae Koseki, a 16-year-old violinist. “I hope we’ll improve soon so that next time it will be our turn to lift the spirits of people in the affected areas.”

The Louvre Museum showcased 23 art objects from its collection in a traveling exhibition at the prefectural museums of Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi from April to September.

The exhibition attracted some 67,000 visitors.

“The number of visitors to our museum fell after the disaster, but just for the Louvre exhibition about 27,000 people came,” said Hiroshi Miyatake, chief curator of the Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art. “I truly felt the power of art.”

Among those from the movie industry extending support is Jim Whitaker, director of the U.S. film “Rebirth,” about survivors of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Whitaker, 44, attended a screening of his documentary at the Morioka Cinema Street Film Festival in late October and told the audience he has watched how those he interviewed for the film overcame their sorrows, encouraging survivors in Japan not to give up hope.

The Bamberg Symphony Orchestra and Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra, both from Germany, held concerts in Miyagi Prefecture in November.

The Vienna Philharmonic plans to continue to send members to the Tohoku region every year for the next five years.

“I’d be glad if (these concerts) could become catalysts and triggers for talent in the children of the disaster-hit areas to bloom,” said Takao Osawa, representative director of a group supporting the visits by overseas musicians.