2008 Percussion Ensemble Tour of Japan
The UNO Percussion Ensemble’s trip to Shizuoka went off with a bang—and a clang, and a rat-a-tat-tat. In its continuing international outreach, the Music Department sent a delegation of seven students and four faculty members on a ten-day tour to Japan from November 22-December 3. The group arrived in Tokyo where they spent two days sightseeing and acclimating themselves. They then traveled by bullet train to Shizuoka. The students commented immediately about the more relaxed pace of the city and jaws dropped when the students realized they would be performing at the city’s concert hall.
The first day was spent at Shizuoka University, a sister institution to UNO. The delegation met with faculty members from the music department providing the opportunity to explore different areas of interest. UNO saxophonist Darren Pettit led a master class while Barry Ford, faculty composer, met with Shizuoka University professor of composition, Hiroshi Ohtuki. Prof. Yoshi Shirai took Melissa Berke, UNO professor of music education, to visit a local kindergarten. Two of the UNO percussionists were surprised to meet former high school friends who are currently studying in Shizuoka. Everyone was overwhelmed at the level of hospitality that was shown.
The following day was highlighted with a concert shared with a Japanese percussion group called Sticks & Mallets. Even though language barriers existed, the groups' shared love of music allowed the groups to communicate. Each group performed separately, but the concert culminated with both groups performing a piece written by Japanese composer, Minoru Miki. “It was a great experience to work with Sticks & Mallets. They are top notch professionals and it is always good for students to work with high level performers. "It was truly what cross cultural experiences are all about, learning from and communicating with each other," said Tomm Roland, UNO Percussion Ensemble director.
On the final day in Shizuoka, Melissa Berke presented a lecture on the American music education system to area music educators. The time in Shizuoka concluded with an elaborate Japanese buffet and time to visit with new Japanese friends. Here the UNO faculty members were given beautiful glasses made from Western glass and Japanese lacquer to symbolize the collaboration between the two cultures. Sophomore Seth McKenzie summarized the trip by stating, "This experience has been amazing, I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to travel to Japan. The performance, the food, the culture and the people---it's been nothing but a positive experience!