<Prologue>History of Activities

A young teacher, organizing “Reed Band Club” at the Middle School

The year 1961 was the year when 24-year-old Motoyasu Morishita became a Kokugo (Japanese language) teacher at Hada Middle School in Toyohashi-city. Ordinary people in Japan at that time were still living in poverty at that time.

The Principal of the school ordered him to establish a “Brass Band Club.” The only instruments they had were two air-leaking accordions, piano in the music room, and a type of harmonica used during music classes.

With a small budget, he visited other elementary and middle schools in the area, asking for classical music instruments. Rich instruments such as violins, violas, and cellos were just like dreams; there was no teacher to teach the instruments either. No oboes, bassoons, horns, tubas, nor timpani were available. Having such a situation, he never gave up and formed an ensemble with reed instruments from scratch.

He passionately worked on making music with students who were very new to classical music and one year later, they won the First Prize of the all-Japan music competition.

The ensemble, which started with a true desire of the young teacher, became a remarkable start of a “citizen orchestra” in Toyohashi, a local city in Japan. This was a prelude to growing into a world association of amateur orchestra.

From a school club to a citizens orchestra, performing “Tokyo Concert”

In pursuit of something “truly valuable,” he worked enthusiastically on the musical club, however, unknown fear started to arise when his students were about to graduate. No matter how hard they practice and prepare for competition, it will just become a middle school memory, as if a water-storage dam is never built without stopping a stream.

It was then the right moment to step forward to establish an orchestra in Toyohashi-city. Morishita gathered alumni, seeking for cooperation and understanding of people in the region and business circles and with many obstacles and difficult circumstance, “Toyohashi Reed Philharmonic Orchestra” was established in 1965.

In the summer of its 6th year after establishment, the regional orchestra with accordions challenged to give a concert in Tokyo. “Why in Tokyo? Why perform in a formation of reed Philharmonie? You are amateur and why do you perform?” Many questioned and opposed, but it was a proof of existence and its identity for Morishita. Their performance in Tokyo was indeed successful and it had brought great responses. It was then when they started to communicate with other amateur orchestras in Japan and this lead to the foundation of JAO.

Foundation of the Federation of Japan Amateur Orchestra Corps. (JAO) and opening of festival

In 1971, the amateur orchestra was still in the time of foundation in Japan and it took another decade to reach its later rise. Amateur orchestras led by leaders regarded as unorthodox in the society at that time. They were fighting all alone. With Toyohashi Reed Phil’s successful “Tokyo Concert”, Morishita wrote over 100 letters to amateur orchestras in Japan and with Toyohashi in its center, exchanges among them started. Someone has to do it in order to get the stage going.

It was in 1972, Morishita sought for cooperation and the Federation of Japan Amateur Orchestra Corps. (JAO) was founded in Toyohashi-city with 23 amateur orchestras.

One year after its foundation, they held “1st Japan Amateur Orchestra Festival in Toyohashi” with great success. After its performance, our bus could not depart since participants of the festival were unwilling to part from each other with shaking hands and tears.

With its successful first festival, different orchestra in Japan now hosts it every year since then. It strengthens people’s bonds of hosting orchestra by welcoming participants to their homeland. The festival has become a way to realize and revitalize its significant activity of JAO.

Opening of “Toyota Youth Orchestra Camp,” a passion for young people

With its support relationship started in 1980 between JAO and Toyota Motor Corporation, “Toyota Community Concert (TCC)” was held in different places in Japan.

In 1985, “Toyota Youth Orchestra Camp (TYOC)” was organized with its aim to foster future leaders of the region through music. Morishita conducted during the camp, telling about cultural activities, and encouraging the young people saying, “Don’t kid yourself just because you improved a bit.” It was earnest sessions between Morishita and young people over their dreams and passion.

Morishita said following to the young participants of the first TYOC. “What I truly hope is to see the cultural blooms of each and every homeland of yours. I hope that your cultural activities will encourage others with compassion and a place where you can share your passion and kindness. It may not happen while I am alive, so please keep working on it after us. You have learned and improved your techniques here, so step up and grow into a bigger musical person now.”

Motoyasu Morishita [Talking enthusiastically to participants of TYOC]

Aiming to be a community-based citizen orchestra

It was after 10 years of establishment of citizens orchestra formed mainly with accordions, when he decided to introduce violins and violas to the ensemble. It was the very first time to touch the instruments for the junior high school students in the ensemble. After intense practicing and rehearsing with Morishita, they performed Brahms’ Symphony three years later. At the same time, Morishita wailed for reluctant parting of accordion members.

The orchestra changed its name as the “Toyohashi Symphony Orchestra” and they expanded their activities as the regional orchestra. His orchestra gave concert tours to elementary and middle schools, villages, and remote islands. They also performed at station deck, hospitals, and at prisons. They performed Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 with chorus and even the first citizens’ opera. They also proposed to perform favorable songs in pops and other concerts, as well as proposing citizen-oriented international exchange festival with local government.

Morishita strongly urged not to perform without enthusiasm nor play with a one-handed attitude in such civic activities. Even if there is only one person in the audience, they give their best performance. This was the true value of Morishita’s theory of activity.

We continued to seek for citizens’ cultural activities that constantly advanced and created, and the significance of existence of the citizens’ orchestra rooted in the area.

Foundation of the “World Amateur Orchestra Federation” with a dream that Earth will one day symphonize

When Morishita spoke about his ambition to establish a federation in Japan, people were surprised and fiercely opposed. When he spoke about his ambition to establish a world federation, they were all stunned and shocked. In order to bring together organizations both nationally and globally, with different cultural and historical backgrounds, there must be no arbitrary whatsoever. Despite countless obstacles, Morishita’s expanding activities to the world would never be possible if his spirit and theory of activity were not selflessness.

The international exchange of young people started in TYOC from 1991, with leaders from nine countries formed the “World Youth Orchestra Conference (WYOC)” where Morishita became the chairperson. Wish expansion to 15 countries, WYOC was reorganized in 1998 as “World Amateur Orchestra Federation (WFAO).” WFAO continued to hold festivals, international conferences, and information exchanges all over the world. With Morishita’s will, Japan plays a neutral position, providing venue and opportunity for gathering.

In addition, NPO-WFAO was also established in 2007 and active exchanges started in Asia.

Fountain of music continues to spread

There was not even once a smooth sail. Other people did not understood him from the beginning. Still, he shook the flag with the ideal light, making people involve, and continued to search for the direction of the amateur orchestra. With the slogan of “Spread the Fountain of Sound,” JAO had finally achieved a fervent wish to become incorporated association. Morishita’s original intention to share the excitement of playing with companions, rather than competing in competitions, is carried on today.

To anticipate the aging society proactivity, “Japan Masters Orchestra Camp” was founded in 2000, completing lifelong education at JAO. With the friendship agreement with federation in Germany and with the development of WFAO, the fountain of music has continued to spread in all directions.

Motoyasu Morishita prayed for the development of amateur orchestra until his last moment, and passed away in May 2010. It was still halfway, thou he never lost hungriness of his soul…

Those who have taken over the activities from him, we must pursue further ideals aiming for a “new horizon,” and must continue think deeply, broad actions, and continue to face ourselves, deeper and wider!

Motoyasu Morishita [Following the tracks of amateur orchestra activities]