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March 11, 2014
  • Rakuten, Inc.

Rakuten Supports US-Japan Exchange Program of
TOMODACHI Initiative to Mark New York Performance of
the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
World Tour 2014

- Musical exchange between Fukushima university students and
New York elementary and junior high school students -

TOKYO and NEW YORK - March 11, 2014 - Rakuten, Inc. is pleased to announce its support for the TOMODACHI Project, a US-Japan music-based exchange program held in New York on March 10 with university students from Fukushima Prefecture in Japan and elementary and junior high students from a local music school in New York. The project was held to mark the New York performance of the 100th Anniversary World Tour 2014 by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, the board of which Rakuten’s Chairman and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani is Chairman. The TOMODACHI Project is subsidized by the TOMODACHI Initiative. Rakuten is the presenting sponsor of the World Tour, and the TOMODACHI Initiative also provided backing for the performance in New York.

Under the auspices of the TOMODACHI Project, selected university students from Fukushima Prefecture, which sustained immense damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster, visited the Special Music School together with members of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra. The objective of the visit was to engender exchange with elementary and junior high school students at the music school under the theme of “The Power of Music”. The exchange event was held with the goal of fostering a “TOMODACHI generation” of young Japanese and American leaders equipped with universal skills and an international perspective. Rakuten sponsors this project and also invited the Fukushima university students to join it as part of its CSR activities which include the promotion of education and music and support for reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas.

Some 100 years have passed since the “do-re-mi” scale of seven tones introduced from the West took root in Japan. For the event, the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra delivered a fusion of Japanese and Western music, at one point performing on Western flutes pieces written for the Japanese shakuhachi. And to conclude the exchange, the Orchestra, students of Fukushima and the local music school students combined for a rendition of the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster charity song, “Hana wa saku – Flowers Will Bloom”. On top of that, Mr. Eiji Oue, the conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra World Tour, has appeared as a special guest.

This was the first musical exchange event to be held under the TOMODACHI Initiative, which has been active for two years since the disaster.

Official Press Materials

Photos from the event can be downloaded from the following link:
http://global.rakuten.com/corp/news/press/pdf/20140311_img.zip

TOMODACHI Project US-Japan Exchange Program to Commemorate

Sponsor: TOMODACHI Initiative
Date/time: March 10, 2014, 13:15-14:15 ※Local time 
Venue:Special Music School Assembly Hall
           http://www.kaufmanmusiccenter.org/sms
Participants: The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra   5
                   University students from Fukushima Prefecture   5
                   Special Music School students     13(performers), 50 (spectators)
Program:    This musical exchange event was held to engender exchange between university students of Fukushima Prefecture and local elementary and junior high school students at a local music school under the theme of “The Power of Music”. The exchange introduced the New York students to Japanese music and was an opportunity to attend a performance that fused Japanese and Western music
                 1) Performance by Special Music School students
                 2) Lecture and demonstration by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
                 ・Presentation about Japanese and Western music and the different scales and rhythms
                 ・Performance of a Japanese score using flutes, percussion and other Western instruments where normally shakuhachi (Japanese fluet), Wadaiko (Japanese drum) or other Japanese instruments would be used
                  3) In the finale, all participants joined together in a rendition of the Great East Japan Earthquake disaster charity song, “Hana wa saku – Flowers Will Bloom”.

※You may view the event here.
Japanese  http://corp.rakuten.co.jp/csr/activities/sports-culture/musicpower/
English     http://global.rakuten.com/corp/sustainability/activities/sports-culture/musicpower/

Rakuten activities in Fukushima Prefecture
As part of its CSR activities, Rakuten is promoting education and music for children in Fukushima Prefecture. Since 2012, it has been operating a mobile van-based library service for children around the prefecture, “Rakuten Mobile Library” *1 and starting in June 2013 it has been promoting music through the development of Children’s Orchestras *2. Fukushima Prefecture is renowned for its lively music scene, with Koriyama City known as the Vienna of Tohoku. In December 2013, the Rakuten Children’s Music Festival *3 was held in the desire to create an event together with children themselves that would allow them to express themselves freely and spontaneously through music.

1 Rakuten Mobile Library:
http://global.rakuten.com/corp/sustainability/mobile-library/
2 Made in Japan! Children’s Orchestra by everyone:
http://global.rakuten.com/corp/sustainability/el-sistema/
3 Rakuten Children’s Music Festival:
http://global.rakuten.com/corp/news/press/2013/1030_02.html

 ■The TOMODACHI Initiative
The TOMODACHI Initiative is a public-private partnership, born out of support for Japan’s recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, that invests in the next generation of Japanese and American leaders through educational and cultural exchanges as well as leadership programs. Rakuten has been a sponsor of the organization since 2013 and supports all of its programs.

■The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra
The Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra is an orchestra of proud history and tradition established in 1911, making it the oldest in Japan. With approximately 150 members, it is able to serve both as a symphony orchestra and a dramatic orchestra. In addition to its efforts to popularize classical music with independent performances such as its “Subscription concerts”, “Afternoon concerts” and the “Power of Music for Kids & Family” concerts, it is a familiar presence for music fans nationwide with its high-level performances and diverse educational activities. These include performing operas and ballets as the regular orchestra at the New National Theatre, Tokyo, the New Year Opera Concert, FM Symphony Concert and Meikyoku Album programs for NHK, the “Untitled Concert” and the “Tokyu Silvester Concert”. Rakuten’s Hiroshi Mikitani was appointed Chairman of the Board in 2011.

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