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Christchurch City Council Media Release 2 April 2002

Ensemble from Japanese Sister City to Play Cathedral Square

FREE Friday Lunchtime Concert, Cathedral Square, Friday April 5, 12.15pm to 1.15pm. If weather is wet, venue will be Christchurch Cathedral from 1pm to 2pm.

The Kurashiki Academy Ensemble will play for the first time in New Zealand on Friday as part of a Sister City relationship between Christchurch, and the city of Kurashiki – located 650km south west of Tokyo, on the Eastern side of the island of Honshu.

Kurashiki became a sister city of Christchurch in 1973, and since then an active cultural exchange relationship has been established.

The string instrument Ensemble was founded in 1994 by a group of young instrumentalists from the province of Okayama, and it is lead by conductor Mikio Ejima.

Ejima graduated from Tokyo Art University, and as a viola player he performed for the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, before beginning a teaching career at the prestigious Kurashiki Sakuyo College. With a solid commitment to the development of young performers, Ejima has lead the Kurashiki Academy to many successful performances all over Japan.

Newton Dodge, Chairman of the Christchurch Kurashiki Sister City Committee is coordinating the group’s short visit to Christchurch. He says their performance builds on the well received visit five years ago of a Kurashiki Choir. “This has been 8 months in the planning, and the performers are very excited to be here, for most of them it’s their first visit to New Zealand!” he says. “ Many are planning a one night homestay while they’re here, so they will get to experience New Zealand culture under the roof of a Christchurch family.”

The enthusiasm of the group is best illustrated by Violinist Norito Nishida and Cellist Teruo Ogawa, who will marry in a traditional New Zealand ceremony next Monday.

Ensemble members have commented to Newton that Christchurch is very flat compared to Japan, and they are fascinated by the beauty of suburban gardens – a luxury in cramped Japanese city environments – and walking on grass is a complete novelty. Grass areas are for looking at, but not walking over in Japan.

The Ensemble consists of 20 youngsters playing violin, viola, cello and bass with the average age being 25 years. Ten members will perform a free concert of well known classical works for String Orchestra on Friday in Cathedral Square, or Christchurch Cathedral if the weather is wet.

The visit of The Kurashiki Academy Ensemble is supported by the music Centre of Christchurch, and Christchurch City Council Leisure.

For more information: Call Beatrice Cheer, Christchurch City Council Leisure Events PR and Promotions Coordinator, Ph 9418 495 or 025 86 88 71

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