MSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble performs for international effort; donations requested 

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The President’s Concert at Murray State University this year will benefit music programs in Japan. The MSU Symphonic Wind Ensemble will be performing to assist Japan in rebuilding music programming that was damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Although there is no formal admission charge to the concert, donations for the relief effort are strongly encouraged.

The performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, in Lovett Auditorium on Murray State’s campus. Everyone is invited.

Some schools and music rooms in Japan were not damaged, but have been taken over as classrooms for other schools that were destroyed. In other areas, schools, instruments and equipment were all a total loss. It has been estimated that as many as 1,800 instrumental music programs have been eliminated or severely affected by the tragedy.

The annual President’s Concert by the Symphonic Wind Ensemble at Murray State normally salutes the faculty, staff, administration and students of MSU. This year, however, President Randy J. Dunn is committed to supporting the efforts of the wind ensemble in providing relief to Japan.

“This is a wonderful idea and I applaud Maestro Johnson for adding an international connection to this year’s concert,” said Dr. Randy J. Dunn, MSU president. “Offering our support for the Japan Band Relief Effort in this unique way is a great example of one of our strategic imperatives — how to do a meaningful outreach with a unique partnership. Bravo!”

The program of the concert has a definite Japanese “thread” to the musical selections. Included in the performance are John Philip Sousa’s Hands Across the Sea and The Sun Will Rise Again by Philip Sparks, who composed this piece for the relief effort.

Also featured will be Japanese composer Yo Goto’s Fetes Lointains, which was commissioned by the Osaka Municipal Symphonic Band, and Hymn to a Blue Hour, by American composer John Mackey. Hymn describes the time of day before twilight that poetically symbolizes reflection, remorse, sadness, longing and a feeling of helplessness — all emotions that were felt the world over as the tragic events in Japan unfolded in March.

Japanese composer Yasuhide Ito’s Gloriosa will be performed with its original melodies and chants that date to the Edo era. Ancient Japanese instruments are simulated throughout the piece.

“All of us were in shock when we witnessed the death and destruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Most of us felt saddened and helpless,” said Dennis Johnson, conductor of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble and director of bands at MSU. “Now we see the ways the disaster has affected individuals and their daily lives. One such example is the many instrumental music programs that suffered through loss of rehearsal facilities, destruction of instruments, and loss of equipment and music used daily for instruction. For those of us involved in music education, this was our call to action. Several national and international wind band organizations have joined together to urge their members to act and, to my knowledge, we are the first to put such a benefit concert together. I am extremely grateful to President Dunn for giving his blessing to us to use the annual President’s Concert for this purpose.”

Deputy Consul General of Japan Shigenobu Kobayashi plans to travel from his office in Nashville, Tenn., to attend the concert. “On behalf of the people and government of Japan, I’d like to express our deepest appreciation for your generous support of the ongoing relief efforts in Tohoku, Japan, the area affected by the earthquake and tsunami in March. Japan is steadily making progress rebuilding and revitalizing the disaster areas and the concern and support expressed and extended by so many Americans to Japan is deeply appreciated,” he said

Organizations and individuals involved in the international relief effort include Yamaha Music, Bravo Music, the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles, the College Band Directors National Association and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

Donations to the Japan Band Relief Effort can be made at the door on the evening of the Symphonic Wind Ensemble concert. Also, donation checks made to ICALA, with “Japan Music Relief” on the memo line can be mailed to Dean’s Office, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Murray State University, 100 Faculty Hall, Murray, KY 42071.

Additionally, Jasmine Thai Cuisine and Sushi Bar is backing the fundraising effort by donating 10 percent of all receipts at its Murray location on Nov. 1.

For additional information, contact Dennis Johnson at (270) 809-6456 or dennis.johnson@murraystate.edu.

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