NEW YORK – Around 140 members of the Fukushima Mothers’ Chorus Association performed at the second Japan-U.S. Chorus Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Saturday.
“To sing our songs to the world in this grand hall with our heads held high was wonderful. We will rebuild Fukushima,” Yuko Miyake, who chairs the chorus, said during an interview following the event.
The chorus performed a selection of songs in Japanese, including the traditional Fukushima folk song “Aizu Bandai-san” and “Soshite, Haru,” a song celebrating the four seasons of Fukushima.
“The language didn’t make a bit of difference. The emotion showed through,” said Chris Murphy, who was in the audience.
Haiku poet Madoka Mayuzumi read the lyrics to “Soshite, Haru,” which she wrote, on stage at the event. She also recited haiku written by residents of areas affected by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Four representatives of Fukushima also greeted the audience. One was Ryoka Endo, 16, who said she screamed when she thought she would drown in the tsunami.
“I realized the importance of my life. I think we should all remember how important our everyday lives are,” she told them.
The Fukushima chorus was joined by The Harmony Celebration Chorus, a local female barber shop quartet-style group, and Choir TOMO, a mixed chorus formed by Mike Shirota, a Sendai-born music director who organizes the choir festival.
At the end of the concert, all of the nearly 250 singers taking part gathered onstage to sing “Climb Every Mountain” and “Ave Maria” together.
Harmony Celebration Chorus singer Audrey Mullinnix called singing with the group “the experience of a lifetime.”
The chorus association was founded in Fukushima Prefecture in 1966 and now has 32 groups and around 750 members.