Takanawadai concert amazes elementary school

Published on Thu, Mar 24, 2005 by ichard Clark

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concert amazes elementary school

By Richard Clark

Japan’s Takanawadai high school band overwhelmed us as the 100-plus members presented a concert for Blaine elementary school students Tuesday morning. I’ve been in the music business for many years, and I’ve grown rather hardened in my assessment of performances. But by the time the concert was concluding, my eyes grew misty.

Never underestimate the power of youth, wherever they are. This was one fantastic concert. “We cannot speak English well, so we are very nervous today,” said the young student moderating the program. And although I could understand neither the names of the pieces performed nor the composers who wrote them, I had no need of knowing.

The music spoke for itself, and that was sufficient. Even the tuning ritual became an art form. The do-la-ti-do tones were repeated several times and in differing arrangements, while the Blaine students marched onto the bleachers and floor of the old gymnasium. Then the musicians stood and sang the four tones.

The national anthem was performed to perfection, creating the impression that the band, aided by the presence of several stringed bass performers, sounded orchestral.

The first selection opened with a broad crescendo that startled the young audience. The power of music was on display, and the audience, dead silent, knew it.

The hour passed with energetic change that ranged from formal music to a Minnie Mouse dance and a musical magician. Unchanged were the enthusiastic smiles that were so contagious.

Conductor Takao Hatakeda caught my attention with his professional work. I wondered where he had received his musical training. His twofold communication with band and audience was obviously well executed. I was taken by total surprise when he told me he was the school’s chemistry teacher.

There were woodwind combos, brass combos, mixed combos, and dances keenly choreographed according to the music performed. Flags of the United States and Japan were flying, culturally based dramas were onstage, and the closing chorus was so upbeat that the audience clapped in rhythm.

I cannot help believing these young musicians do more to promote international understanding and world peace than a whole barrelful of politicians.