Junior Writers Reporting

Hiroshima Junior Marimba Ensemble uniting the world through music

The Hiroshima Junior Marimba Ensemble, based in Nishi Ward, Hiroshima, was established in 1991. The group has held performances in Japan and abroad to appeal for peace through music.

This year, on August 10, they will perform in the “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Memorial Peace Concert” in Melbourne, Australia. A member of the group, Ryusei Ueda, 11, a sixth grader at Tojo Elementary School in Higashi Ward, has already traveled abroad three times to perform. “Because we’re kids, we can communicate a message of peace in our own way,” he said with conviction.

The director of the ensemble is Mieko Asada, 59. Explaining why she founded the group, Ms. Asada said, “I wanted children to have the chance to make music freely by themselves.” The group now consists of 22 members, ranging in age from kindergarten to the first year of high school. Each child also takes private marimba lessons with Ms. Asada.

Hanna Ito, 11, a sixth grader at Kogo Elementary School, has been a part of the group since she was in preschool. She described the appeal of the marimba, saying that the instrument can produce a variety of tones by using different kinds of mallets.

Since its first performance at Carnegie Hall in New York in June 2000, the Hiroshima Junior Marimba Ensemble has staged many performances overseas, including in France, Russia, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. At performances to welcome visitors to Hiroshima attending international conferences or other events, they are often asked to perform abroad. At every performance, they read aloud a message of peace.

One member of the ensemble, Fuka Shibasaki, 14, a second-year student at Furuta Junior High School, said, “I don’t have much free time on weekends to play with my friends, but I can stick with the group because the audiences in other countries are happy to hear our music.”

“Peace around the world” is the aim of the Hiroshima Junior Marimba Ensemble, and they pursue this goal by connecting with others through the language of music. (Written and photographed by Shino Taniguchi, 15)

(Originally published on July 23, 2013)