Concord Receives Largest Nanae Delegation in Town History

By Ben Mirin

As seen in The Concord Journal.

On September 23rd, Concord received its largest ever delegation from Nanae, the town’s Japanese sister city. A group of seventy-two delegates filled the cafeteria of Concord Carlisle High School around 9pm to meet their host families and settle in for a week of exchange programs, official sister-city events, and sightseeing.

“We’ve been planning the events for this delegation visit for nearly a year now,” said Dr. Tom Curtin, Concord-Carlisle High School’s former guidance counselor and Concord’s primary coordinator and linchpin for the towns’ increasingly rich sister city history.

“We’ve just finished arranging all the homestays, and the group we’ve got on board to help host and entertain this year’s delegates is incredibly strong. We’re also excited to welcome some new faces from Boston into the sister city program, who have helped organized some exciting trips for us downtown.”

This year Nanae’s delegates will make several time-honored visits to Concord sites, including the Old North Bridge and the Orchard House. Curtin has also arranged tours of Harvard Square, the Japanese wing at the Museum of Fine Arts, and Berklee College of Music, with a special live performance by Japanese faculty member and trumpet virtuoso Tiger Okoshi.

Nanae has been sending its citizens to Concord almost every year since 1993, first informally and then officially after Concord’s Board of Selectmen voted to formalize the sister-city relationship in 1997. Historically, these groups have been on the smaller side, rarely amounting to more than twenty people. Students and teachers from Nanae’s elementary, middle, and high schools have comprised the majority of each delegation, alongside representatives of the local government. Members of the town’s taiko drum ensemble, interpreters, and many other citizens have also been in the mix.

But this year’s group is so large because of a promise that was made early on in the Concord-Nanae relationship, which will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary in October 2012. The Concord-Carlisle High School band director, Alfred Dentino, has been waiting to see it fulfilled.

“We first sent our Concert and Jazz bands to Nanae in 1998” Dentino said. “The trip was a great success, and our students loved having the chance to visit Japan. I’ve been waiting for the chance to host Nanae’s high school band in Concord ever since.”

The CCHS Concert Band has played a particularly prominent role in Concord and Nanae’s ongoing exchanges. Band members from 1998, 2004, 2007, and 2010 have visited Nanae in groups of up to 90 students. Many of those have in turn hosted Nanae students during past delegations, but the Nanae High School Band has never visited Concord as a group…until now.

“I first asked Mr. Onodera about the possibility of bringing his band to Concord during a visit to Nanae in 2001,” Dentino explained. “We’ve faced numerous logistical hurdles along the way, but thanks to dedicated people in both our communities those efforts are finally going to pay off.”

Nearly every member of the Nanae High School Brass Band has joined in on this year’s delegation. Under the guidance of band director Katsuyuki Onodera, they’ve spent months rehearsing a diverse set of works by Japanese and American composers to perform alongside CCHS’s Concert band.

The bands will play a joint community concert at 3:00pm on Sunday, September 25th, at CCHS, as well as two concerts for students on Monday morning. Concord’s own Taiko club, composed of Concord citizens and CCHS students and featuring guest drummer and Nanae delegate Lisa Takahashi, will open and close Monday’s performances.

“It has been almost ten years since Mr. Dentino and I had our first discussions about bringing the Nanae High School Band to Concord” said Onodera-san. “Both of us are retiring next year, and it is a great privilege to see the dream we have shared reach fruition before we are gone.”♦

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