Hiroshima citizens collect musical instruments for Sarajevo, hold benefit concert

by Mayumi Nagasato, Staff Writer

Citizens’ groups in Hiroshima have launched a campaign to collect musical instruments to help revive music education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the slogan “Music for Sarajevo,” the organizations will hold a benefit concert featuring a performance by Emir Nuhanovic, the conductor for the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, at the Higashi Ward Community Cultural Center on November 29.

The two sponsors of the campaign are ANT-Hiroshima, a non-profit organization, and My Heart Concert Promotion Committee, a music event planner. The musical instruments, whether brand-new or used, are being accepted at the ANT-Hiroshima office in downtown Hiroshima until the end of this year.

The organizations stress that there is a particular need for brass instruments and so are soliciting the public for such donations. The collected instruments will then be delivered to Sarajevo and Mr. Nuhanovic will utilize them at music schools he plans to establish in the near future in the cities of Sarajevo and Tuzla.

During the war in Bosnia, which raged from 1992 to 1995, many musicians lost their lives and a large number of musical instruments were damaged or destroyed. While Serbian forces laid siege to the capital city, the Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra defiantly continued their concerts at the national theater under candlelight. Today the orchestra is composed of roughly 110 members and actively holds concerts dedicated to the victims of war and terrorism, including the atomic bombings.

In 1999, Mr. Nuhanovic took part in “August in Hiroshima,” an international music festival that brought together 40 musicians from 12 countries. Based on his experience of Hiroshima, he contends that “The siege of Sarajevo and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima are both acts of terrorism that targeted civilians.”

Mr. Nuhanovic is visiting Japan at the invitation of the Japan Foundation. At his own request, he will remain in Hiroshima from November 25 to 30 and also perform the clarinet, as he did in 1999, at a nursing home for A-bomb survivors.

At the charity concert on November 29, Mr. Nuhanovic will perform with four local musicians, including violist Takashi Okita. The venue can seat 141 people and tickets are 1,500 yen. Proceeds from the event will be used to purchase musical instruments. “Hiroshima and Sarajevo share a history of pain,” says Tomoko Watanabe, the executive director of ANT-Hiroshima. “But we would like to share a future of hope.”

(Originally published on November 20, 2008)