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Memorial Concert: Bridging Beyond 9/11

M Shirota

The Tragedy of 911

The Tragedy of 911

It happened right here in New York - a terrible incident that shook the world. More than 3,000 people died and 24 Japanese victims were among them. That day, September 11, is not forgettable for most people living in NY city. In fact, it should not be forgotten. Where were you then? What were you doing? Wherever you were or whatever you were doing at that moment, this must be something that remains in your heart vividly just like a drama.

Now several years have passed. A variety of events are held in New York on this day every year. These events must have been held, at least at the first few years, for the purpose of praying for the victim's souls in peace. However, some events seem becoming routine ceremonies or even like festivals.

"A Thousand Winds" Composed by A Victim's Father

I happened to know Mr. Kazusada Sumiyama who lost his son in the 911 incident. Mr.Sumiyama likes music and he started composing songs expressing his grief and his passion in them. He also put some melodies to lyrics written by an American who also lost his child in the tragedy. One of Mr. Sumiyama's masterpieces is "A Thousand Winds". A song "A Thousand Winds" composed by Mr. Man Arai is already well known in Japan. Mr.Arai translated a poem written by a native American (anonymous) into Japanese and put a melody on it. At the one-year anniversary of the 911 tragedy in 2002, Ms. Brittany Clark, a 11 years old daughter of a victim (who was a chef of a restaurant in WTC), read the poem. People attended the ceremony were so moved by her reading especially when she changed an original phrase of "Do not cry before my graveyard" to "I am with you still". The word "graveyard" must have been something intolerable for her in a situation that her father's body was never found yet. Ms. Brittany mentioned later "I felt I heard my father's voice when I was reading the line.

Mr.Sumiyama had a great sympathy with her reading as his son's body was not found, either, and decided to compose a song based on the slightly modified poem. Unlike Arai's "A Thousand Winds", Sumiyama's "I Am With You Still" is rhythmic and swinging in six-eight time. I was moved by the piece as I felt "a prayer", "a hope" and "a strong message" there. That is why I planned this concert. I wanted to sing Mr.Sumiyama's "I Am With You Still" with my colleagues in men's choir hopefully in front of Mr.& Mrs. Sumiyama. Concert does not have to be gorgeous. It can be small and simple. All I want is a serene and healing moment and space with music that could be shared with the victim's families on that day.

The First "Circle Wind" Memorial Concert in 2008

More than 15 professional artists and musicians in NY area ( and a J-pop singer from Japan) participated in the first concert that was held in the evening of September 11, 2008 at an auditorium of an elementary school downtown New York. They were all volunteers. The concert was filled with a variety of live music, such as jazz, gospels, piano, violin, classic vocals (soprano & baritone solo), standard vocals and men's choir. Mr. Sumiyama's "I Am With You Still" was sung by a male choir at the end of the concert before him.

[The 2nd "Circle Wind" Memorial Concert in 2009]

We don't think that this concert should be an one-time event. We believe that this should go on every year. We see a great significance in continuing it. We would welcome people who love music not only in NY but from all of the world. It doesn't matter if you are professional or amateur. No special restrictions on your performance as long as it is appropriate to this concert. Your performance may be limited to about 10 minutes. However, it is only 2.5 hours concert with 15 minute intermission and we may have to decline your participation if we were fortunate to have had enough artists for the 2.5 hour performance.

We would also welcome volunteers to help us manage and support the concert. It would make a big difference to make the concert significant. The success of the concert should really depend on your deep compassion on the 911 tragedy as well as your love to music.

February 3, 2009

Mike Shirota

Music Director, "Circle Wind" Memorial Concert






御遺族の一人に当時富士銀行に勤められていたご子息を9.11で失くされた住山一貞さんという方がおられます。 もともと、音楽に造詣の深い方ですが、息子さんを失くされてからはご自分の“想い”を作曲に托されるようになりました。やはり9.11でお子さんを失くされたアメリカ人の作った詩にメロディを付けたり合唱曲を作曲したりされています。そのうちの一曲が「千の風になって(A Thousand Wind)」です。Native American(作者不詳)の詩に新井満氏が作曲した「千の風になって」は日本ではあまりにも有名ですが、2002年9月11日の一周年追悼式の際、犠牲者(WTCのレストランのシェフでした)のお嬢さん(Brittany Clarkさん、当時11歳)がこの詩を朗読し人々の心を打ちました。彼女はこの時、原詩を少し変えて朗読しています。即ち “Do not cry before my graveyard”の部分を “I am with you still”と読み替えたのです。大半の犠牲者の遺体が発見されていない状況で “Graveyard” という言葉はあまりに重く受け入れがたいものだったのでしょう。Brittanyさんは I am with you still. . . .と読んだ時「父親の声を聞く様だった」と話しています。


第一回 メモリアル 風の環コンサート



私たちはこのコンサートを一回で終わらせるのではなく今後も続けていきたいと考えています。継続していくことに大きな意義があると考えているからです。そしてNYだけでなく世界中の音楽を愛するたくさんの仲間に集まってほしいと考えています。プロ、アマを問いません。ご出演に興味のある方はご一報ください。お一人(一グループ)10分程度での演奏時間ということ以外に特に制約はございません( ただし、時間の関係で全員の方々に御主演いただけない場合もありますので予めご了承ください)。また、実際にステージに上る演奏家だけでなく、会場に足を運んでいただける方もお誘いしています。去年はたくさんの方に集まっていただきました。今年はもっと大勢の方に聴きに来て頂いて、9.11の“その日”にここNYでご遺族の皆様と共に素晴らしい音楽に浸っていただきたいと思います。


9.11メモリアル 風の環コンサート


白田 正樹

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