NU concert to pay tribute to Japan efforts

Jillian Sandler

Students and professors in the Bienen School of Music are holding a concert Wednesday night at Pick-Staiger Concert Hall to benefit disaster relief for the earthquake-ravaged nation of Japan.

Admission to the concert is free, but donations will be collected at the door. All proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami relief fund.

Visitors are welcome to stop by the event anytime between 6 and 9 p.m.

Prof. Mas Sugihara, who organized the event, said the concert will feature performances by students, professors and guest artists, including clarinetists from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, who will be performing Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet.

J-AID, a group of volunteers that formed in response to the Japan earthquake and tsunami, contacted Sugihara and inspired him to organize the event, he said. Taku Kashimura, one of the founding members of J-AID, said music is one of the best ways to garner support for the cause.

“Music is a universal language. We figured that we could reach the most people through this medium,” he said. “And it’s the best tool to send a message to foreign countries which speak non-English languages, such as Japan.”

The concert will also be broadcast online at Pick-Staiger’s website, Sugihara said.

“My hope is that some people in Japan can join us on the web, and we can show them our support,” he said.

Sugihara said he gained approval quickly from Dean Toni-Marie Montgomery for the event and has gathered 49 performers, many of whom are faculty members and students. He said he credits the staff at Pick-Staiger for their contribution to the concert.

Prof. J. Lawrie Bloom was instrumental in attracting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to the event, Sugihara said. Bloom, a CSO clarinetist, said he has personal connections in Japan that motivated him to perform in the concert.

“I myself performed for the first time in Japan in 1966 and have been back numerous times since then,” he said. “I have made many friendships, and love the country and the Japanese people.”

Sugihara said he is not sure how many attendees to expect, but he is working to ensure that the public will be able to find a time to stop by.

“The event is long and I am asking people to come at anytime during the event to accommodate people with different schedules,” he said. “I really hope that we will have several hundred people show up.”

Many NU students and faculty members found themselves intimately connected to the natural disaster that struck northeastern Japan on March 11.

Bienen senior Caitlyn Glennon, who will be singing at the concert, said her sister was in Japan when the earthquake struck.

“At 5:20 a.m., I got a text reading, ‘An earthquake has hit Japan, I can’t reach mom, please let her know I’m alive and I love you,'” she said. “Since then I’ve been getting very detailed letters from my sister about what they’re going through over there, and it just blows my mind.”

Glennon’s sister, Kelsey Glennon, who is still in Japan helping with the relief effort, said although the country needs all of the aid and money it can get, the people there are collaborating nicely to push the country through this crisis.

“This entire country isn’t destroyed. On the contrary, it’s full of resilient, giving, hardworking people that will work day and night to help their countrymen up north rebuild their city,” she said in an email forwarded by her sister. “I’ve never seen people come together like this, ever.”

Bloom said he feels it is important to keep Japan’s situation in the forefront of peoples’ minds.

“Like any great university, Northwestern students, faculty and staff are focused on their work,” he said. “But it is very important that we all remember we are a part of a much larger world, and in this case Japan needs everyone’s help.”

Sugihara said he is proud to use his love of music to aid Japan in its rebuilding process.

“I felt powerless watching the tragic events unfold on TV. I am sure many people felt the same way,” he said. “The concert will give NU and the surrounding community a chance to do something to help by attending the concert and supporting the ongoing relief effort in Japan.”

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