ICEP (International Community Engagement Program) Activities in Japan 2016
Every year in May or June, ICEP participating artists share their experiences in a series of “Reporting Concerts” in Japan. These reporting events provide a unique opportunity for the general public to hear firsthand accounts from the participating artists of what they thought, felt and learned through their ICEP experience. The participating artists also visit elementary schools, hospitals and other institutions, making good use of their ICEP experience to engage with the children.
In June 2016, Midori was joined by ICEP violinist Robyn Bollinger, violist William Frampton and cellist Michael Katz for activities that included visits to three elementary schools, six special needs schools, two correctional schools and two hospitals. They also gave two concerts for the general public, one at The Phoenix Hall in Osaka, the other at Oji Hall in Tokyo, where they performed works by Dvořák, Schnittke, Mozart and Mendelssohn.
The artists performed in the lobby of the National Art Center in Tokyo, which was packed with people. A group of disabled students performed an arrangement of a song by the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi called “MIDORI Song”.
About a visit to another Special Support School for the Visually Impaired, in Osaka Minami, the ICEP coordinator Chad wrote, “There were about 15 students there, and they were learning music together, under the guidance of some great teachers. The most touching thing about our visit was how Midori spent a long time working with one particular student. She guided his hands over the violin, and even let him touch her nose, then the instrument, so he could understand the position of her face relative to the violin. I really felt at that moment: through music, we can communicate with all human beings, regardless of their language or ability.”
Of a visit to an elementary school, violinist Robyn wrote “We split up and played for individual classes and then we came back together and played a short concert for a group of students. They asked very perceptive questions, and they also sang a beautiful song for us”
A visit to Yonezawa National Hospital, which is a special needs hospital in Yonezawa, touched the ICEP participants especially. Violist William Frampton wrote, “It was inspiring to see the level of care each patient received, as well as the dedication shown by the doctors and staff. … Many of the residents were bedridden and seemed to have been so for years. It was very special to spend time with them and be among the people they get to know in the capacity that is possible for those less-mobile residents. My experience with ICEP has taught me that looks can be deceiving and not to make assumptions about what each patient perceives and understands.”
Violinist Robyn wrote, “Today was unlike any other day I’ve ever had. We visited Yonezawa Hospital and played for some of the disabled residents. Their lives are so difficult- I’ve never encountered such profound physical struggles. And yet, they were totally engaged in our music. It was wonderful to experience. … It was very meaningful to be able to reach people who otherwise wouldn’t hear music, and it was also important to meet their families and their caretakers. The families and nurses do such important work- it is humbling and astonishing to see the amount of love and care that surrounds this hospital. Amazing. It was a privilege to be with them.”
Cellist Michael wrote, “Our second-to-last day included only one visiting concert, but it was not an easy one. Most of the patients we met were in a wheelchair or had to stay in bed. They suffered from a variety of deformities caused by illness. It was difficult to see people suffering this way, but at the same time encouraging to see how moved they were by the music. Many of the patients moved differently and/or smiled once the music started. … Like all other ICEP visits, this visit reminded us that everybody needs music and everybody deserves access to music.”