Drawing on the power of music to send a message of peace from the streets
Have you ever heard delightful singing or the lively sound of the violin as you are walking through the streets of Hiroshima? Street performances known as the “Otomachi Concert” are periodically held along the main street of Naka-ku in Hiroshima City.
Music Brings Peace is an NPO that organizes the Otomachi Concert, a free concert held twice a month that features artists with intimate connections to Hiroshima.
“The NPO Music Brings Peace was founded on the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing. Our intention was to hold concerts that can be attended by everyone, and we started by inviting choral and orchestral groups from the public to join us so that we can hold concerts that everyone can be a part of,” explains Kimoto Yoshihiro, a member of the organization.
“The chairman of our organization became an A-bomb survivor when he was just eight years old, and he always feels very sad whenever he is reminded of that episode in his life. Therefore, this event has continued to be held ever since the inaugural concert took place in the summer of 2015. Our hope is to draw on the power of music to transform Hiroshima from a city that was an A-bomb target to a city that embodies our desire for peace,” Kimoto points out.
Although the organization holds large concerts featuring world-renowned conductors and orchestras, it also holds community-based concerts entitled “Building fortresses of peace in the hearts of people” that everyone can be a part of.
“The concerts featuring renowned musicians held by our organization always showcase a choral performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. Some people might be surprised that we play that in summer, but it is actually a piece we perform regardless of the season. The line ‘all men shall be brothers’ in the piece also makes it a wonderful choral symphony that perfectly conveys our message of promoting peace through the power of music.”
Unfortunately, the organization has been unable to hold major events and concerts due to the COVID-19 situation, and open-air music concerts known as the “Otomachi Concert” have been held in their place instead. These concerts are held at the Hiroshima Prefectural Citizen’s Culture Center and along the main street of Naka-ku in Hiroshima City, allowing passers-by to simply stop and enjoy the music in familiar everyday settings.
The Otomachi Concert held on May 25th, 2022, featured a string quintet performance by the Otomachi Quintet at the Hiroshima Prefectural Citizen’s Culture Center, as well as captivating trumpet and piano music performed by the duo AKT36 in front of the former site of Futaba Tosho along the main street of Naka-ku.
“Open-air concerts are the perfect way to give form to our desire to make music more accessible to everyone. Many people stop and listen to us, including office workers who are on their way to work, tourists, and the shopping crowd.”
A wide range of memorable pieces is performed at these concerts, including classics that everyone is familiar with, theme songs from animation series and movies, popular hits, and rock classics from the past. The audience often finds itself clapping to the beat, with smiles lighting up the faces of everyone as they briefly immerse themselves in the world of music.
“The most important thing is for the audience to enjoy our music. We also have a lot of fun when we are performing for them.”
“We are extremely grateful to be able to listen to and play music under testing circumstances such as war and COVID-19, when even our everyday life is under threat.”
As pointed out by Miyazaki Mariko (left) and Hirahara Masanori (right) of the Otomachi Quintet, who had performed at the concert, the presence of music in our everyday life has created a time and space that can bring smiles to the faces of everyone.
“I hope that, someday, we will be able to hold regular concerts and street performances throughout the entire month in various spots of Hiroshima City. That will surely bring smiles to the faces of even more people, and it will be really fun for all of us who are performing. There is no doubt among people across the world that both peace and music are very important. I hope that Hiroshima can not only be known as a ‘city of peace’ but also as a ‘city of music’ as well,” Kimoto tells us with a smile as he sways his body to the rhythm of the music reverberating through the area.
Date: Every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month
Time/Venue: 11:45 AM to 12:15 PM, Lobby of Hiroshima Prefectural Citizen’s Culture Center
12:20 PM to 12:50 PM, In front of HNB & Craft Beer Sumibi Harebare
The “Building fortresses of peace in the hearts of people” Concert2022
Date: July 24th (Sunday), 2022
Time: Starts at 3:00 PM (Doors open at 2:00 PM)
Venue: Hiroshima Bunka Gakuen HBG Hall
Admission: 2,000 yen (free seating)
Performers: Tanaka Yuko (conductor), The Peace Orchestra, The Peace Choir
NPO Music Brings Peace
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