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Concert helps give aid for Japanese relief

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Claremont Psyko Taiko, a drumming group that includes students from all the Claremont Colleges, performed Sunday during a benefit concert to raise aid for those suffering from the catastrophes in Japan. Claremont Colleges For Japan, a Facebook based student group, organized the benefit. The day-long event concluded with an evening concert at Garrison Theater at Scripps College. / photo by Allison Lavelle

Rachel Creagan
Staff Writer

A benefit concert for students and families in Japan was put on at 8 p.m. Sunday in the Garrison Theater in Claremont.

The audience was treated to a few Japanese-inspired musical pieces, along with a collection of classical performances.

“This cause could not wait, and I feel there was only one thing we could do to respond, which was to give the best of ourselves through musical talent,” Hao Huang, professor of music at Scripps College, said.

“So, this concert is an offering of the best of what we do.”

The night started out with a bang as the Claremont College’s Psyko Taiko group shared the Japanese art of Taiko drumming, combining both traditional and innovative elements, in front of a backdrop of scenic Sendai’s temples in Japan prior to the disaster.

“This is not about us, this is about something so much more important.” Huang said.

“This is an opportunity to help our international community.”

“It is a realization that catastrophe can happen anywhere to anyone,” Kyojo Kurita, associate professor of Asian language and literatures at Pomona College, said.

The audience was then asked to join and sing, using lyrics provided, to a song sung in Japanese about a heartbroken person telling himself to continue with his life.

The song was accompanied by a beautiful arrangement of violins, a piano, and a cello.

The backdrop changed to a black curtain, and a spotlight focused center stage showcased an array of talent from professors and students alike, presenting their gifts through instruments, song, and dance.

“The general talent level is really high, but I wish they had played more music that related to Japan,” attendee Stephanie Park, humanities major at Scripps, said.

“Most of this music is regular music that we hear a lot on the radio, it makes me wonder how much of an effort was put in.”

During intermission, the slide-show backdrop returned, displaying pictures of Japan post-disaster, as ushers went around with donation boxes.

Following the intermission, dance pieces were performed.

“They clearly threw it together last minute, but these things usually are. I thought it was a great use of community resources through all Claremont Colleges,” attendee Efe Irabor said.

“I could have done without the interpretive dance section.”

Before the closing performances, India Mullady, president of Scripps Associated Students, thanked the audience once again for their support in attendance and donations.

“Japan is one of many partners we must continue to extend a hand to in the coming months and years,” Mullady said.

Scripps College, department of music and dance, and the joint music programs of the Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer and Scripps Colleges organized the event.

An impressive turnout of students, faculty, parents, and locals, who occupied more than half the venue, came to show their support.

The event was free, but donation boxes were scattered throughout the theater.

All proceeds collected will be donated to the Victims’ Compensation Funds administered by the Myagi Prefecture in Japan.

Pins were provided for attendees that were detailed with Japanese artwork and the word “hope” printed on them.

“This is a tragedy, but by being here tonight, you are saying tragedy has touched Japan, tragedy has touched its people, but tragedy does not and will not define Japan; that is our mission here,” Mullady said.

Rachel Creagan can be reached at

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