Musicians from the UK and Japan collaborate with disabled young people of Kawasaki City to create a new piece of orchestral music
The partnership project between the British Council, Kawasaki City and UK arts organisation Drake Music to improve access to music for disabled people, is now in its fourth year. Over the course of the project, we have worked with many Japanese musicians, delivering skills training to support their understanding on working with disabled people and to develop their skills and build confidence in delivering inclusive music-making workshops
In 2021, Japanese musicians who had participated in training sessions by Drake Music over the past several years, had the opportunity to work with students from Special Educational Needs schools in Kawasaki, with the goal to create a new piece of orchestral music together.
Drake Music musician Ben Sellers and 12 Japanese musicians worked with 27 students and 18 teachers from three Special Educational Needs schools in Kawasaki City. Through a total of 20 music-making workshops, and drawing inspiration from the opera ‘Aida’ and its music, they together created a new piece of original music for the orchestra, named the ‘Kawasaki Suite’.
We had planned to invite members of Drake Music from the UK to join the Japanese musicians in the delivery of workshops with the young people, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they were unable to visit Japan this year. However, by using online video conferencing tools, Drake Music musicians were able to work closely with the Japanese musicians, sharing video letters from the UK and videos of each workshop, to create the new piece of music.
The finished composition, the ‘Kawasaki Suite’ was given its world premiere by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra at the finale concert of the Festa Summer MUZA KAWASAKI 2021 on 9 August 2021. The piece is a collection of rhythms, melodies and sounds created by the students and captures not only their individuality and creativity, but also the atmosphere of the workshops.
We hope the music created by the students will show the power of music as a means of self-expression, and the importance of supporting access to music, so everyone has the opportunity to explore their creativity through music.