- Japan Classic Live for the United Nations, the ecologically focused international musical troupe performed at Stony Brook Southampton's Avram Theater on Tuesday, November 3. Prior to Tuesday's performance the troupe has only appeared in the United States at the United Nations and the Smithsonian.
Tokyo's Philharmonic First Violinist mesmerized the audience with his beautiful playing.
This is a non-profit organization with co-sponsorships from the Japanese Prime Minister's office, Foreign, Education, Environment ministries and national organizations, in addition to funding support from government and private foundations. Over the past 10 years, Japan Classic has performed with an environmental message throughout Japan, Asia and Europe as well, and in 2008, they performed in cooperation with the G-8 Tokkai Summit.
The evening presented a blend of Japanese, classical and western music intermingled with traditional Japanese and western dance performed by over 50 members, and is very much an eclectic theater piece with elaborate numbers interspersed with serious messages about environmental disaster should we not take precautions today.
The performance is in three acts. The year is 2100, and Act I is set against a background of changing images of the beautiful scenes of the blue planet earth, and then climate change, global warming, melting of polar ice, Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in Japan, and atomic bomb blasts in Nagasaki and Hiroshima are shown, as well as a recalling of people's wisdom throughout the millennium and asks what and where it all went wrong. Act II recollects a United Nations setting in 2009, nearly 100 years prior, where the cast as delegates debate over what should be the response options, giving priority to their respective national interests - rather than global interest. Act III presents a strong message that all countries must come together and take all necessary steps now, and without further delay, to prevent the ecological and human disasters that would have happened in the year 2100.
Scene from Act I of "Our Blue Planet" where Japanese and western music is sung by the more than 50 cast members.
According to one of the founders in attendance at Tuesday's performance, Professor Ryokichi Hirono
, Professor Emeritus, Seikei University and Visiting Professor, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, Tokyo, as well as a professor of economics, "At the time of the founding of the United Nations in 1945, freedom from hunger, ignorance and fear were the three basic elements of what we call 'Human Security' which constituted the basic aims of the international community. The greatest challenge of development facing the global community in this millennium is not only to realize all these three dimensions of freedom simultaneously, but also to secure one more dimension of freedom, that is, freedom from self-destruction and self-extermination resulting from the ecological meltdown."
Scene from the performance repeated in all three acts where representatives of the world meet to try and reach global understanding and agreement.
The pre-performance speeches, among others, from Professor Hirono, Dean Mary Pearl
of Stony Brook Southampton, and Steven C. Rockefeller
(current Director of Institutional Services and Special Advisor to the Board of Directors at the Park Avenue Bank). Rockefeller, who has received a Fulbright Award at the United Nations for dedicated service to poverty alleviation, indicated "That I am very happy to be involved with Professor Hirono and such an important undertaking that this evening addresses." Indeed, all concluded that we must act today to save tomorrow.
Flowers were presented to Steven C. Rockefeller following the performance.
Professor Hirono, who translated Mariko Hashimoto's
inventive script and helps lead the troupe in the U.S., continues "Our environmental musical sets the stage for 2100, when mankind and the Earth are facing a critical moment of self-destruction, and offers a warning to our generations now to do everything possible to prevent such natural and human disasters. If all the countries should take united, bold actions now and be fast to deal with climate change, there is no doubt mankind will be able to survive, and so will our Blue Planet. Let people of the world be united to create a dynamic world without poverty and human rights violations, promoting democratic governance, and building a world without nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as agreed upon by the UN Security Council in September of this year."
This is some very heavy and heady information to portray in the guise of a musical, however, given the superb talent of this troupe, including the beautiful performance of the first violinist for the Toyko Philharmonic, the message was heard loud and clear by an enthusiastic, although somber audience.
Flowers were also presented to Professor Hirono.
Professor Hirono has written about the "Earth Charter" that "The commitment of the international community to achieving the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in the fall of 2000 must be fulfilled by 2015, if not sooner. The 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol
is on our doorstep, and yet the international community has not come to agreement on the post
-Kyoto international arrangement to deal with climate change beyond 2012. It was Mr. Katoyama, the Prime Minister of Japan, who has officially proposed to the international community of both developed and developing countries to work together to prevent further advance of global warming and reduce worldwide greenhouse gas emission by 25 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2050, while requesting industrial countries to do their best to reduce GHG emission by 80 to 85 percent by 2050."
The evening's choreographer receiving well deserved accolades from the audience.
The first four principles of the "Earth Charter" printed on note cards and passed out to each attendee include:
1. Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
2. Care for the community of life with understanding, compassion, and love.
3. Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.
4. Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.
Following the performance, flowers were presented to many of the key people who have undertaken to be sure our planet does indeed stay blue. Armed with digestible information presented in an unusual but entertaining presentation certainly left audience members with much to think about and hopefully act on themselves.
This evening was sponsored by Dean Pearl and the campus' Sustainability Forum, organized by noted professor and former United Nations environmental official Dr. Nay Htun
. The Southampton production was filmed to be aired in Japan and at the COP 15 Climate Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.
For more information go to www.earthcharter.org.
Scene from Act III with cast members joined by Stony Brook Southampton students and audience members united in global awareness.
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.