On Friday, March 11, 2011, the great Eastern Japan Earthquake hit Japan. A tsunami that followed caused untold destruction and misery leaving homes and families torn apart. Even now the recovery effort is still in its infancy.
Along with the American Red Cross, charities and celebrities are raising money for the relief effort. On a much smaller scale, Newton South High School alum Taichi Fukumura (Class of 2010) has organized seven benefit concerts, the proceeds of which will go solely to helping the Japanese people.
An undergrad at Boston University studying violin, and a conductor of the Boston Accompanietta Orchestra, Taichi Fukumura saw no better way to help ease the suffering than to use his gift of music.
“When I was watching the videos on the news I decided that we, that everyone, need to do something to help,” Fukumura said. “Fortunately all my family was ok, but I do know some people whose relatives didn’t make it.”
Taichi, along with several other musicians and orchestra groups, used their collective background in classical music to help the people of Japan. He also enlisted the help of his younger sister and junior at South, Yoko Fukumura, and his friend and senior at South, Daniel Zhang.
Yoko Fukumura, a pianist since a young age, did a benefit concert a few years ago for an earthquake in China. “I am Japanese myself, so I feel more connected. And since my brother is organizing it, [that] further deepens my connection with this cause. I am not directly affected, but I hear stories from other people about their families and the conditions and I get scared,” Yoko said.
Zhang, a senior at South is the conductor of an orchestra group called the Boston Acompanietta and plays the violin “masterfully”.
Taichi and Zhang created the orchestra in 2008 after the former head of the Music Department, Dr. Rossini, retired. Zhang is also in South’s official student orchestra called the Newton South Sinfonietta (NSS).
The Acompanietta is completely student run and directed, and does not play at the official school orchestra’s programs. Usually, the NSS plays a few times a day, despite having to perform in contests and shows. On the week of April 25, it will perform Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals as well as the three concerto competition winners’ pieces.
Zhang has realized the difficulties of maintaining the NSS and conducting for the Acompanietta, but during the benefit concerts he will not be conducting, but rather performing while Taichi conducts.
“[The concerts] are a wonderful cause,” Zhang said. “I think it’s really brave that a lot of different groups are willing to perform for this cause.
Six days after the earthquake struck, Taichi began planning the concerts. Originally planning to have only a couple concerts with some solo performance, Taichi’s plans reached newer heights when he got in touch with other musicians.
“The organization was mostly my own. I got into contact with many administrative people in BU for help. Most of the people that I found were music major students studying to become professional performers,” Taichi said.
From then on his passion project picked up speed as he began turning his small time charity event into seven full-fledged benefit concerts. Out of the seven concerts, three are held in BU, three in the Eliot Church in Newton, and one at the New England Conservatory (NEC), a concert hall in Boston.
The concerts in Newton are on Saturday, April 16 at 8 PM. and Saturday, April 30 at 5 PM. and 8 PM.
Taichi has a policy of not performing in concerts that he organizes.
“[I usually don’t like to play] when I run the concerts. There is too much managing to do and performing would take a toll on me, both physically and in terms of the quality of performance. It wouldn’t keep me in the right mindset,” Taichi said.
He, however, chose to go against his principle of not performing and managing because this charity is close to his heart and will be conducting the last concert in Newton.
All three concerts are free of charge and funding for this charity is strictly on a donations basis.
“Any donations for Japan at the events will be greatly appreciated,” Taichi said.