The EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee is an organisation founded in 1992 and made up of over 30 top executives of large Japanese industrial companies, as well as the ambassadors of several EU countries in Tokyo.
The Committee's objective is to promote cultural exchange between Japan and Europe, its focus being on cooperation with the European Capital of Culture host cities, not only during but also after the Capital of Culture year. This year's Chairman of Operating Committee is KazuoTsukuda, who is also Chairman of the Board of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Young Turku-based cellists at big youth concert in Japan
Japanese audiences will have the chance to hear the musical talents of young cellists from Turku at the beginning of March. The cello students from Arts Academy at Turku University of Applied Sciences will be the only performers representing Finland at the International Youth Concert in Tokyo, a large event showcasing talented young artists from Europe and Japan.
The International Youth Concert will be held at the 800-seat Kioi Hall in Tokyo on Thursday 1 March. In addition to the Turku-based cello quartet, other performers at the concert will include a Japanese girls' choir, a Hungarian-Japanese pianist, and a soprano from Maribor, Slovenia. Maribor is one of two European Capitals of Culture in 2012.
The cellists will have concerts also in Fukushima which was severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami last spring. The concerts are held in Shirakawa and Mikami Elementary Schools and also in a facility for the handicapped people.
The Turku Arts Academy cello ensemble is made up of students Johanna Jaakkola, Sakari Kivinen, Anni Manninen and Teemu Mastovaara. The ensemble has been playing together for a few years, and this is their first concert outside Finland. The students will be joined by lecturer in cello and chamber music at the Arts Academy, Erkki Lahesmaa.
“We wanted our concert in Japan to be a powerful experience. A cello quartet is a very expressive and visually striking combination. The sound of several cellos together makes for a rich and colourful concert experience,” says Erkki Lahesmaa.
In Japan, the quartet will be performing cello pieces by the French composer François Couperin, German composer Richard Wagner and Spanish composer Manuel De Falla.
The students' participation is being organised by the Turku 2011 Foundation, responsible for coordinating the Turku 2011 Capital of Culture year, in collaboration with the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee and the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo. Cay Sevón, the CEO of the Turku 2011 Foundation travels to Japan as a guest invited by EU-Japan Fest Committee.
EU-Japan collaboration continues strong from 2011
In September 2011, during Turku's Capital of Culture year, a group of over 70 members of Japanese children's and youth choirs visited the city with the support of the EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee. The choir members were accompanied by a nine-strong Committee delegation led by the 2011 Chairman of Operating Committee, Sadayuki Sakakibara, President of Toray Industries Inc.
A majority of the choir members were from Sendai, one of the worst affected areas in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. During their stay, they performed in schools and residential care homes for the elderly, and also held a concert in Michael's Church. They also got to perform for Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, who were visiting Turku at the time.
The EU-Japan Fest Japan Committee was also involved in supporting other Japan-related Capital of Culture year projects in Turku, including the exhibitions ‘European Eyes on Japan’ and ‘Inner Landscapes’.