'Song for Japan' catches on with musicians around the world


A number of musicians around the world have been posting videos on the Internet of their performances of a tune dedicated to the victims of the March 11 tsunami and earthquake disaster.

More than 180 videos of “A Song for Japan” played on various instruments have been uploaded so far. The piece, composed by trombone player Steven Verhelst, is scheduled to be performed publicly for the first time in March by the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra.

Verhelst, a 30-year-old Belgian, said he aimed to compose a tune that would be simple and catchy.

The original piece, played solo, lasts about five minutes, but there are also quartet and other versions.

He gave up the copyright and published the score online, asking viewers to perform the piece and offer prayers for the disaster-hit area.

A charity project was also launched, selling merchandise including T-shirts bearing the tune’s title.

Those who have posted performances of the song since last June include amateur musicians, personnel from the Self-Defense Forces who took part in rescue and relief activities in the disaster area, and musicians from the Berlin Philharmonic.

The tune’s arrangements have diversified to include a brass quintet, salsa and other versions. Parallel to the increase in videos posted, the sale of charity items has surged.

Last August, a video performance was posted from the disaster-hit area, with words of thanks to the world.

“That made us all happy,” said Takashi Shinagawa, 33, a Hanover, Germany-based trombone player who is in charge of the project.

“The idea came from the trombone’s nature that it is a good instrument for supporting others in an ensemble,” Shinagawa said. “But I never expected the project would spread so far.”

Currently, Verhelst is arranging the stringed-instrument version for its debut at a reconstruction-themed concert to be held in Sendai on March 31.