This weekend, you can see incredible live musical performances by students from around the area – and provide some desperately needed help to a high school in Japan.

“Music for Japan: A Benefit by Students, for Students”will feature local musicians, singers and dancers from elementary through high school age.  The concert will take place on Sunday, May 15 from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. at South Orange Middle School. All of the proceeds will go toward rebuilding the Kesennuma High School in Miyagi, Japan, an area that was badly affected by the April 22 earthquake and tsunami.

“This fundraiser represents the best of our community,” said Marcy Thompson, director of the Maplewood Arts Council and one of the event’s organizers. 

On the roster are the Columbia High School (CHS) a cappella group “Half Step Up,” student rock and jazz bands, the high school’s Special Dance ensemble, and several classical performers, among others. “We’re participating in the concert because it is community-based and for a good cause,” said Ellis Charles, CHS student and member of the rap group Music Over All.  “We feel the pain of those devastated in Japan and are willing to do whatever we can to help.”

CHS small group ensembles will perform from 3 p.m. – 5 pm.  From 5 pm – 7 pm, student orchestras will take the stage, including the Northern New Jersey Youth Orchestra, the CHS Chamber Orchestra and guest ensembles from Edison and Randolph. A highlight will be a performance of the 5 to 8-year-old members of the Suzuki Ensemble of the South Orange/Maplewood School District. 

“Many of the families of Kesennuma High School lost homes, livelihoods and loved ones,” says Chikako Kaneshige, who came up with the idea for the concert with her husband Tim and their son, Brian, a CHS student. The Kaneshige family will present the funds raised from the event directly to the Japanese high school’s vice principal in New York in June.

“It’s really inspiring to know that students want to help other students half way around the world,” said Thompson. She added, “Don’t miss seeing this much incredible student talent in one place.”

The event is jointly sponsored by the HK Community Fundand the Maplewood Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, with help and support from the school district.

There is a suggested donation of $20 per person.  To make additional donations, go here and click on “donate.”  Tickets will be available at the door, and also at Words Bookstore, Maplewood Stationers, and the Park Wood Diner in Maplewood, Stony’s in South Orange, and Motion Fitness Club in Millburn.

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