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  • Brian Munguia

December 2021 - Letter from the Artistic Director

Hello Everyone!

First allow me to begin by thanking all of our fans, followers, supporters, as well as all of our singers for all of their time an energy put into giving this group life over this past year.

I started recruiting members for Tokyo Repertory Singers in April 2020, not too long after the beginning of the pandemic. We began rehearsals at the end of January 2021. After several State of Emergency declarations resulting in periods where the group met remotely or not at all, the future of our group was uncertain.

Despite the challenges, we used our time as best as we possibly could to discover new ways to rehearse, recruit additional members, and perform.

In August, we had our very first performance as ensemble at the Karuizawa International Choral Festival in August. Our performances of Frank Ticheli's "Earth Song" and Ola Gjeilo's "Ubi Caritas" received high praise from the adjudication panel and we even began receiving an increasing number of inquiries from people interested in joining our group. However, after the festival a sudden rise in cases of the Coronavirus Delta Variant led to another State of Emergency during which we were unable to to meet as a group.

In October, the state of emergency was rescinded and we began to meet as a group to prepare repertoire for Christmas as well as repertoire to sing at the Choral Association of Tokyo's 2022 Spring Choral Contest, Harukon. It was around this time we began to see a sharp increase in interest from Tokyo's international community and we received more inquiries and visitors in 2 months that we received in over a year!

This past month alone we have been visited by people from The Philippines, China, Lithuania, Finland, Australia, and the USA who currently reside in and around the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Many of these people had previous experience with music and/or singing while other did not but their desire to sing was all the same. Their reasons for not pursuing musical activities while living in Japan were also the same: language and cultural barriers.

While it was my goal to create a safe space for all people to be themselves and openly communicate with people from different backgrounds, These past few weeks especially have provided glimpses of what that could potentially look like. Where I was conducting rehearsals primarily in Japanese, I now lead and provide instruction using both English and Japanese ー in effect, making our rehearsals bi-lingual. Members of the group who had previously been apprehensive about using English are now being more proactive in their use of the language to help the people around them. Visitors and new members from abroad are also reciprocating by finding the same bravery to use Japanese to the best of their ability. In other words, I am seeing people making active efforts to overcome barriers for the sake of helping each other and this is resulting in a stronger sense of community within the group.

While the primary objective of the group is to challenge ourselves to sing a variety of repertoire regardless of era, language, difficulty, etc., I am overjoyed to see this diverse group of people work together to make everything happen.

While we are still a very small group, I look forward to seeing the group grow even larger in 2022 and carve our place not just within the choral community but also the international community in Japan as we move forward.

Though slowly increasing numbers of the Coronavirus Omicron Variant are cause for concern throughout the world, Tokyo Repertory Singers will remain committed to creating music in whatever way possible while providing a safe space for all members regardless of age, sex, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality.

If you are currently living in or plan to move to the Tokyo area and are looking for a choir to sing with, do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a visit. See what we are about with your own eyes.

We look forward to meeting you!

With a smile and a song,

Brian Munguia

Artistic Director, Tokyo Repertory Singers

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