Japanese Association Sakura Choir has been around since 2011 and was originally used as entertainment for the International Food Festival held annually at Emporia State.
However, when the disastrous tsunami in Japan struck, the decision was made to perform instead in order to receive money to donate to those children that were orphaned by the natural disaster.
Since 2011, the choir has raised approximately $1,900 for the Ashinaga Scholarship Foundation, a group that helps support those orphaned by the tsunami.
Along with their generous donations to the tsunami victims, the group has also met with elementary schools to teach about Japanese culture and folk songs. Their latest concert will also benefit Mike Sorsen, pastor of Emporia Presbyterian Church, who contracted Lyme disease while aiding one of his parishioners.
Most of the members of the Sakura Choir said they especially loved the community they had built within the group itself.
“I love the relationships,” said Kenji Anderson, an 8th grader at Emporia Middle School, said. “It’s a great way to learn the culture through music.”
While the choir was originally composed of only Japanese members, this is no longer the case. Aki Notomi, senior athletic training major, helped steer the choir in the direction of donation collections in 2011.
“(The group is now) a multicultural organization brought together to sing,” Notomi said.
Currently, several Korean and American students are among the choir’s 18 members. With two members that are now ESU alum and one still in middle school, they are just as diverse in terms of age.
The choir meets once a week and practices for two hours. The first concert they ever held was at Emporia Presbyterian Church, where the director Masatoshi Takami, senior music major, attends on Sundays.
Takami has been directing the choir since its creation. It was his first one to direct, and he said he cherishes the opportunity to lead so many wonderful people.
“(It is a) good experience to build teaching skills for choral music,” Takami said.
The choir will perform at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Emporia Presbyterian Church, 802 Commercial St.
At the concert, the choir will be singing songs in French, Korean and Japanese. A few songs will have a mixture of the languages. Admission is free for students and $5 for other attendees. All proceeds will be divided between orphaned tsunami victims and Pastor Sorsen.