<Chapter 4> Activities of Japan The Federation of Japan Amateur Orchestra Corps. (JAO)

“JAO has covered from youth to elderly people, setting the base for lifetime education.”

The Federation of Japan Amateur Orchestra Corps. (JAO) was established in 1972 with 23 organizations. There are such federations for brass band, chorus, marching band, plays, and theatres, but it did not exist for either professional or amateur orchestra.

The establishment of JAO, we all became aware of companions just like ourselves, surprised to find out that we all had a common and similar problem and troubles that we were facing. It was because of the companions all over Japan, who made us aware of the fact that activities within our own area were not enough at all. It was then when we started to move on from activities in one dimension to two and three dimensions.
(March 1987)

With the cooperation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and other institutions, JAO has simply continued “musical collaborations” since its establishment. Having the situation of people’s life nowadays and rapid increase of music lovers in Japan, the appearance of a corporation with macro perspective who respect cultural activities with a deep understanding of growing amateur orchestra and its activities was long-awaited.

With the start of official support of Toyota Motor Corporation in 1980, the principal objective of their support lies, not only financial wise but also on the accomplishment of education and civic activities in the field of creative community life.
(March 1980)

The 2-day-program of “National Amateur Orchestra Festival” was organized every year since 1973; however due to the fact that it was not enough to complete technical seminars, symposium, orchestra rehearsals, collaborating with other people, etc., “Toyota Youth Orchestra Camp (TYOC)” had started particularly for young people since 1985. With its mission as “to study in order to activate the activities of hometown,” more people participated from local regions rather than from central regions of Japan.

Although TYOC started with such mission, there were actual benefits as “secondary effects,” the realization of young people’s ability to draw plans and determination to complete their own missions through the preparation and actual camp period. The TYOC was not only the place where you experience special lessons from first-class professional music players, like music companies or instrumental shops provide; there was a leap of transformation beyond this level. The young participants struggled, argued through long telephone conversations and exchanging letters and started to build their own intention into actual shapes. They met new and indispensable friends through TYOC, which became the driving force or TYOC. No one waited for being taken care.
(March 1987)

TYOC is a unique musical program in the world; it does not hold any technical audition, but a recommendation from director of his/her orchestra is necessary. It indeed is important that the participant is able to play his/her instruments well, but what is more essential is whether they will continue the musical activities in his/her own hometown. The program is not a gateway to becoming a professional musician, but rather a program that returns to society.
(December 2007)

From rehearsal to daily activities to opening/closing ceremonies, young participants organized everything. Organizing committee with proud young people from all over Japan gathered, argued until late midnight every day. However, the awareness of running TYOC by themselves had led them to be as proactive as possible, and they all started to form a sense of confidence within themselves to solve any problem that occurred.
The center of your continuous activity takes place in local regions with the spirit of TYOC, “to bring back what you’ve learned to our own hometown.” It is essential for TYOC to educate non-auditioned young people to become opinion leaders of the cultural activities in the local region in the future.

With a catchphrase, “Going through all movements of orchestral life”, Japan Masters Orchestra Camp in memory of HIH Takamado started from the year 2000 for people over 40 years of age. Having an aging society in Japan, it is a camp held 2 nights 3 days every year, aiming for continuous deepening and improvement of music. JAO has now covered from youth to elderly people, setting the base for lifetime education.

I truly hope that all orchestral activities of JAO continue to serve as purification system and a buffer for youth and society in the world, and will continue to work gradually with so that it becomes “a language of the Earth.”
(June 2004)

There are countless music festivals held frequently in Europe every year, such as music festivals aimed for young people at becoming professionals, and arts festivals, including paintings and theatrical events. In Japan, we JAO hold the “All-Japan Amateur Orchestra Festival” every year; however, it is difficult for my original dream to come true. My dream is that people gradually gather on a schedule of about a week with following conversations; “Today, we will perform string ensemble,” “Wind instruments will make strong sound while camping in the field,” “There is a rehearsal for piano concerto in the small hall,” and “Large formation of orchestra is performing on the weekend.” This is a dream music festival in a beautiful small town, from elementary school students to over 50 years old master class participants all come together to enjoy the music.

Sightseeing with your family is a pleasant way to spend time, but how about a festival where you can meet your friends and watch the young people grow every year? Could someone make this come true?
(June 2009)