On the 14th of January 2013 this year’s part of the Flower Joint Concert, which was organized by Groundwork Fukuoka for the 15th time, took place. Performing on the impressive stage of the Fuku Fuku Hall in the Fukuoka City Citizen Welfare Plaza Hall in front of a large audience, the various handicapped and non-handicapped artists could feel like world famous superstars. In fact, their performances were in no way inferior to those of the professionals. From 1:30 p.m. onwards they perfectly entertained everyone for more than two hours.
After the concert’s moderators had warmed the audience up, the show started with the “Deaf body percussion Club” from Kurume. By making the audience participate in their “even without an instrument, even if I can’t read the notes, even if I can’t sing a song, everyone can enjoy the sound” music, the kids quickly broke the ice. In the end of their performance the whole hall was playing a circular canon by just using the body as an instrument. Not only the sound, but also the feeling of unity was overwhelming.
Afterwards it was time for some calmer tunes. The blind teacher and musician Kōno Shōhei was responsible for many open mouths when he flawlessly played heart-warming pieces of music on the piano. When his wife and daughter, who seem to support the musician with all their strength, joined in to sing Groundwork Fukuoka’s theme song “Kimi wa subarashii” (engl. “You are wonderful”) nearly everyone failed to keep emotions in check.
The atmosphere was underlined by the decoration of the venue: After the winter sunflowers that were planted in October last year unfortunately had been frostbitten, Groundwork Fukuoka’s staff decided to use dozens of origami sunflowers instead. Furthermore a slide-show with pictures of healthy sunflowers and staff members presenting the concert posters was shown in the background. Since the sunflower is the official symbol of Groundwork Fukuoka’s “You are wonderful”-campaign, everything was fitting perfectly! Additionally, in order to emphasize the songs message Groundwork Fukuoka’s founder Otani-san was giving a short speech on the NPO’s work and achievements.
He was followed by a group of students who were “singing” a song without even using their mouths. Instead the lyrics were presented in sign language. The young women gave their very best to cope with this way of communication and stay in the beat of the music at the same time. I am convinced that many people in the audience hadn’t seen anything similar before.
Afterwards Pure Heart, a band of children suffering from Down’s Syndrome, rocked the hall. Although they are still so young, those local heroes know how to entertain the masses with their own interpretations of famous pieces of music. The highlight definitely was the song “Rising Sun”, which originally is performed by the chart stormers of EXILE. The crowed was going wild!
Last but not least the dancer and entertainer Okuda Seiya entered the stage in his crazy superhero outfit. Seiya-san invited the other artist as well as the audience to dance with him. So in the end he turned the concert into a real party. A whole hall of people was celebrating the splendor of life and even the modest Yamaguchi Chie, the mentally disabled girl, who painted the concert’s artwork, showed herself on stage to rightfully receive her applause.
The joyful clapping of the audience, the respect towards the artists and their amazing abilities and most importantly the proud faces of the ones suffering from handicaps – the Flower Joint Concert 2013 definitely was a successful step towards an integrative society were everyone can live a life in happiness.
Written by Andreas