On March 11, the Paris-based headquarters of the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) hosted a tribute concert to remember and comfort the victims of last year’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami, as well as to express Japan’s gratitude to the world for support in the aftermath of the disaster. The violin soloist for this performance was Mr. Ryosuke Suho (16, second son of Ms. Mie Suho, a Sakai Grand Church Yoboku), an alumnus from Tenrikyo Institute of Music string class and currently a freshman at Tokyo College of Music High School. Together with a globally active conductor, Mr. Yutaka Sado, and an orchestra specifically created for this event, Mr. Suho appeared on the stage to express his prayer for the reconstruction of the country’s devastated areas.
This concert was co-organized by the international staff association of the UNESCO, Japanese Culture House of Paris, and Japonaide, a voluntary association of Japanese artists residing in Europe. Invited from Japan with Mr. Sado and Mr. Suho were Mr. Nobuyuki Tsujii, known as the “blind pianist,” and the members of Super Kids Orchestra, which is made up of Mr. Sado’s elementary, middle, and high school aged students from around the country.
It was at the age of seven that Mr. Suho started learning the violin at the string music class. He has consecutively participated for two years in the Young Prague International Music Festival, which invites young artists from around the world. Last year, he won the 9th Tokyo Music Competition, sponsored by, among others, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. His successes at recent events such as these were one reason why he was requested to join the concert in Paris. The other reason is to be found in the personal connections he made during his time as a violin student in European countries such as Germany and Switzerland.
“In a way that would speak to my country”
The concert hall was crowded with around 1,400 people. The whole event was divided into two parts, the first of which began with the “Air on the G-String” (Bach) by Super Kids Orchestra. A one-minute silence was observed after the first performance. This was followed by a video showing scenes of the disaster and then a speech by Ms. Akiko Iwasaki, owner of the tsunami-stricken Horaikan inn in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture.
The young violinist entered the stage in the second part of the event, where he proved himself to be a confident participant in the “special orchestra,” which united members of the Orchestre de Paris and other major orchestras in France, as well as performers from other European countries.
Under Mr. Sado’s baton, Mr. Suho performed the three chapters of Tchaikovsky’s nearly 30-minute-long Violin Concerto in D major, which was met with rapturous applause from the whole audience.
The concert received extensive coverage in Japan’s newspapers and on television, just as in the French media. In one media report, Mr. Suho was recognized as “a 16-year-old full of talent.”
“When I started playing my violin, I thought about the souls of all those people who died in the earthquake and tsunami and all those people suffering and grieving in the places that were affected,” recalls Mr. Suho, “So I tried to perform in a way that would speak to my country. On the day before the concert, one of my instructors sent me an e-mail which said, “When you perform, you should be whole-hearted and thankful that you can play violin.” I read it again right before the show started, and I think that’s why I wasn’t too nervous on the stage. Thanks to all these nice people in the orchestra and the audience, I could really feel how so many people in the world cared about Japan.”