June 21 – Iizuka – Concert Day!

Rehearsal began at 10am, but first, the students had to get there. Some students rode in their home stay families’ cars to the high school, while others traveled by train – with their luggage and instrument. It was an adventure for sure. The rehearsals ended at 12:30pm. We then traveled to another Aeon center to get lunch and some snacks for dinner time. Next, we visited the former home of Daemon (sp) Ito. He was a coalmine millionaire whose home and garden have been turned into a museum. The architecture and design were amazing. I hope the pictures can do it a little justice.

Finally, it was almost time for the main reason we’re here – the first of three performances. The students changed into their concert attire. We posed for a large group shot of both bands together, and then joined the audience for the beginning of the concert.

The concert was such a spectacle! Iizuka High School started the show with their marching band onstage – literally marching and performing including colorguard. They had a colorguard feature, drumline feature, and then ended with the full ensemble. While the stage crew set up for OSU, Dr. Chapman was interviewed in Japanese, and the trombone choir performed “A Prayer for Japan”. OSU then took the stage and performed beautifully. If you were able to attend the June 10th concert, you’ll remember “Star Wars” and
“Rhapsody in Blue”. They also performed Alfred Reed’s “Armenian Dances” under the baton of guest conductor Teppei Suzuki. For an encore, the OSU Steel Band played, as well as a full ensemble encore. Iizuka High School featured a woodwind quintet while their concert set was prepared. Next, Iizuka performed, including an anime piece with actors, props, singers, and dancers. One more interview was given by Teppei-san as the stage was set for the combined ensembles. All in all, a fantastic evening of music! Mr. Hatanaka has promised to send us a DVD of the full performance.

The toughest part of the trip thus far came next – saying Good-bye to our new friends. Mr. Hatanaka presented the OSU students with the Godzilla figurine they had used for their anime piece. Many tears were shed by the OSU members and their host families. One student said, “Do we have to say goodbye?” Another declared, “They [my host family] are my family now.” What made it even more difficult was the realization that they would be meeting and leaving two more families.

As the bus pulled away, some of the Iizuka students chased our coaches, waving as they ran. Soon, they were behind us, and we were headed back to Fukuoka for the night.


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