Panos Karan Performs with the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta
The Alumni Reception
On Sunday, April 3, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations of The American College of Greece and the Consulate General of Greece in Boston held a private cocktail reception in honor of renowned pianist and Pierce 2000 graduate Panos Karan, on the eve of his performance with the Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta (FYS) at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Over 30 alumni and distinguished members of the Greek community gathered, including ACG alumni: Nikolaos Artavanis (P ‘98) Assistant Professor of Finance at the Isenberg School of Management, Dean Dimizas (D ‘96) Managing Director at Cambridge Associates LLC., and Anna Kosmidou (D ‘96) Administrative Secretary at the Hellenic Consulate General in Boston.
George D. Behrakis, President of The Behrakis Foundation, and his wife Margo Behrakis attended the reception as well as Lou Ureneck, Professor of Journalism at Boston University and writer, who recently gave the 2016 Venizelos Chair Lecture at The American College of Greece.
Vice Consul Maria Koukoutsi said, “Our gathering here is a testament to the power of music and the role it plays in our everyday lives… It also brings us together through cultural and traditional ties.” The sentiment was echoed by Dr. S. Sue Horner, Scholar in Residence in the field of Gender Studies and Religion, who said, “We are very proud of Panos Karan… He’s not only a fine musician, he has a heart for how music can change your life.”
The Fukushima Youth Sinfonietta
The FYS was created by students from four Fukushima high schools in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear disaster of 2011. Determined to aid in the recovery of their devastated communities, the students found solace in music and asked pianist Panos Karan and flutist Zach Tarpagos, two professional musicians visiting from Greece, to help them form an orchestra.
The two musicians have returned to Fukushima dozens of times to coach the orchestra, and have invited musicians from Europe, the US, and India to join them in supporting the Sinfonietta. Now led by conductor Tetsuji Honna, the FYS has quickly become one of Japan’s finest youth orchestras, and featuring soloists Karan and Tarpagos, the Sinfonietta has performed Mozart and Rachmaninoff concertos, as well as orchestral works by Glinka and Barber.
In 2014, Karan’s charity Keys of Change invited the FYS to London for a highly successful performance at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, whereas the following year, the Sinfonietta made its Tokyo debut at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall in the presence of Empress Michiko of Japan.
The orchestra continues to significantly contribute to the recovery of the Japanese communities, bringing confidence and hope to the suffering areas, and has been widely recognized as a leading symbol of communal cohesion during a period of rebuilding.