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  • Brian Munguia

Letter From the Director - HAPPY NEW YEAR 2023!

Updated: Jan 19, 2023

2022 was a fantastic year for Tokyo Repertory Singers.

Though we began member recruitment in 2020 and officially began activities the following year, the pandemic made everything from practicing, performing, and even seeing and talking to each other until 2022.

However, as restrictions on gathering and singing became more lax in Tokyo and people began to feel more comfortable gathering again, we saw boosts in membership and were able to perform in our firsts competitions with great success.

In 2023 we hope to keep this momentum—if not build on it—and keep working on creating Japan’s most inclusive and repertoire diverse mixed voice choir.

Those who follow us on social media May have seen our kakizome that shows one of our goals for the year: akarui koe. Directly translated, this means “bright voice.” While this of course applies to the type of voice that we aim to sing with, this is also I reference in how to speak to others in our daily interactions and the kind of energy we hope it will give way to.

Kakizome: Akarui Koe - "Bright Voice"
2023 Kakizome: Akarui Koe - "Bright Voice" by Brian Munguia

Bright and energetic greetings amongst our members as well as to visitors. Being positive and providing the support needed for people to be happy and thrive in our group. Simply being happy to see each other. These are all things that we believe will help create a place where we all want to be and, in turn, translate into great social and musical success overall.

This is not to say the the group is not a great place to be in right now (because it is!), but we are still a young group and one of the more diverse groups in the area.

Joining the group provides first-time opportunities for some of our Japanese members to be in such close proximity to foreign residents. The group also provides opportunities for our foreign members to interact with Japanese people in ways they may not normally interact with them in their everyday lives. Understandably, this is cause for a bit of nervousness and the learning curve is real!

Regardless, we are all here to accomplish the same thing: create beautiful music.

Starting with changing the way we communicate is one way we think will get us there.

Some might wonder how we will get there? One of things we hope to being doing in 2023 is creating opportunities for members to interact with each other outside of rehearsal.

Choral Festival Group Photo 2022
Tokyo Choral Festival 2022 - Post-performance Group Photo

Due to the pandemic, it has been a policy to not have any official TRS-organized get togethers as a means of preventing the spread of the coronavirus. While this made sense from a safety standpoint, it definitely had an impact on how well our members could get to know each other and adversely effected our sense of community. Though the pandemic still ongoing, restrictions in Japan are starting to get more relaxed. This is providing us with some room to start planning group functions outside of rehearsals.

There are also some members who lack of confidence in their singing. This has to do with the fact that we have a group made up of members at different levels of singing and with different levels of understanding of music theory. I’m order to help these people feel more comfortable, we are doing 2 things in 2023: hosting monthly music theory and aural skills lessons and beginning collaboration with a professional voice trainer for the group.

Music theory and aural skills lessons began in November 2022 but we hope to keep the lessons going in 2023 as well. They are currently taught by me (the director of the group) and cover the basics of music theory and sight reading for members who have never formally studied or feel they need a review of the subject matter. My having a better understanding of this subject matter, members will be able to better follow discussions and instructions that are given during rehearsals.

The employment of a voice instructor has been a goal of ours for a while now. However, it is difficult to find a trainer in Japan who speaks both English and Japanese. This being the case, I will be working as an interpreter with our new voice trainer, mezzo-soprano Sadami Yoshida to provide periodic vocal instruction to the group. This will hopefully help members lacking in confidence about their singing voice.

Sadami Yoshida - Mezzo-Soprano
Sadami Yoshida - Mezzo-Soprano

Group members will also be free to schedule private lessons (without interpretation) should they be inclined to further improve their teaching skills and strengthen their voice for to meets the demands of not only choral singing but solo singing as well.

Through the addition of social events and confidence building skill-building opportunities, the hope is to create an environment in which members can feel more comfortable being themselves and as a result create a stronger sense of community.

2023 will be a year of of many firsts and much growth for the group and we are excited to share this with as many people as possible.

We are still recruiting new members and have many openings in our tenor, baritone, and bass sections.

If you are looking to start or make a return to singing in 2023, please feel free to get in touch and schedule your visit today!

Brian Munguia President & Director, Tokyo Repertory Singers

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