The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta (FYS) is a youth orchestra based in Fukushima, Japan developed out of the aftermath of the disasters of 2011. Keys of Change and concert pianist Panos Karan are largely responsible for the creation of the FYS in March 2012, responding to requests of young middle-school students in Fukushima to come together for a performance at the Fukushima Ongakudo Hall. The FYS demonstrates how important music can be as an agent of healing in times of great emotional upheaval and future uncertainty.
The core of the FYS program is self-expression and personal improvement through music. The Japanese students constantly develop their individual musical skills in collaboration with other students from different schools. At the same time, they are encouraged to take responsibility for helping other students do better and for fostering assistance to the younger or less skilled members of the ensemble.
As numerous testimonies from the Fukushima students, teachers, and parents have indicated, the FYS programs have been a life-changing experience for many of the Fukushima students. Playing music and developing individual musical skills helped greatly with each child’s healing process as he or she emerged from the traumas of 2011.
Working together to create the orchestra and then to rehearse and perform with it brought scores of students closer together, helping them express themselves freely and overcome their inner fears, contributing hugely to their musical and personal maturity. In addition, the experience helped positively in the recovery of parents, teachers, and friends of the young musicians. In numerous ways the work of the FYS has strengthened families, schools, and communities in the Fukushima area. This sense of unity and collaboration to overcome personal or social tragedies is unmistakably communicated to anyone who hears the students perform.
The long-term goals of the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta and Keys of Change are to keep this group of musicians active for many years, with performances in Japan and abroad whenever opportunities arise. Such activity, it is hoped, will eventually erase the terrible memories of March 2011. Some of the members of FYS may go on to become professional musicians; many will not. But the experience of making music together in these early years will enlighten their lives and help make them better people.
In the near future, the FYS is planning to involve more schools in Fukushima, in order to include more young people in the experience of music. It also plans to enlarge its scope by including more international members. Keys of Change is also hoping to invite more international soloists of all ages to Fukushima to perform with the orchestra. A good symphony orchestra is a living and dynamic creature: there is always room to improve and room to learn and experience more. Please stay tuned and support us!
A MESSAGE FROM PANOS KARAN
The people of the FYS, Keys of Change, and all their supporters remain convinced that “Music can change the world – for the better!” and the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta will remain dedicated to leading such change: in Fukushima, in Japan, and far beyond!