The Origin Story

Hello blog world!

I hope you've been enjoying Nana's Blog! Today is my turn, and I’d like to share with you how this all began. 

I guess it begins with me saying that I am a flutist, and I feel I’ve had an incredibly lucky career. I’ve traveled to many countries, met many wonderful people, and I have so many great memories performing music. There’s one experience, which stands stronger than the rest, which I experienced when I went to Central & South America in 2003 & 2005 for work. While performing with local orchestras and teaching local flutists, I discovered the tremendous amount of love and passion for music they had, and this made me realize a whole new dimension to the meaning of music.  Music can be hope, music can empower, and music can free people. That idea inspired me, and it stayed with me for a long time. I was always hoping for the next opportunity to come from somewhere.

Nearly 10 Years went by, and it was the summer of 2013. I happened to come across a documentary film called "Kinshasa Symphony". I was so moved by their story, and I was eager to try to find a way to work with them. But how can I possibly make that happen? After some research, I discovered that the founder & conductor Armand is on Facebook! After a few months of silent Internet stalking, I finally sent him a message, expressing my desire to work with the orchestra. He kindly wrote back to say that he would love to have me for some woodwind workshops. YES! But now what?

Next, I contacted the Japanese embassy in Kinshasa, introducing myself and asking if we could collaborate in some way. They were interested, but ultimately, after several email exchanges, we just couldn't find a way to make it happen. I messaged Armand to deliver the sad news, but promised that I would keep trying to find a way to get myself to Kinshasa.

A few months went by, and I found myself in a fancy boutique hotel in Manhattan. It was New Years after all, and after the laughing, the dancing, the joyful cheers and a few too many champagnes and cocktails, I began talking with a lady. It was already passed 2 am so the room had gotten much quieter, and we got along well. The next thing I knew, quite similarly and spectacularly to “movie life” I had watched about NY growing up in Tokyo, this lady had invited me to speak and perform at a multi-professional summit that her own organization "Womensphere" is hosting at Columbia University! I was flattered. 

15 days later I was at the summit. There I met successful professionals who found a way to use their talent and skills to make a positive impact on the world. It was truly a humbling and eye-opening experience for me, and I realized that until that point, my career had been all about me.   

"Which concert halls have I performed in?"

"Which renowned artists have I collaborated with?"

"How many competitions have I won?" etc., etc.

And then I began to think, “Is there anything I can do to make a positive impact outside the concert halls and recording studios?”

After mulling it over for some time, it came to me. <Teacher Training Program>. What if I could teach existing musicians in various parts of the world, those musicians just as passionate as me (if not more), like those I met in Central/South America 10 years ago, to become teachers? Oh! Is there a way I could maybe do this with that orchestra in DRC?

After stewing about it for several more months, I made the best decision ever, quite naturally. I told Nana about my still hazy, yet honest ideas, hoping to make some sense. As I rambled on about my not-so-organized ideas, I was happy to see that she was not only excited about them, but also quite helpful, organizing my thoughts and even developing them further. It seemed like she really believed in my ideas, and within few short hours, we began to have a clear vision! I emailed the embassy and Armand with our new plan, and 3 weeks later, we had bought tickets to Kinshasa.

I guess you never, ever know where inspirations and ideas come from. It seems to me they come to us in all sorts of ways, wherever you may be. And when the time is right (for me, it’s usually when I least expect it), things have a way of falling into place. Oh, and it's all about teaming up with the right person! I am infinitely grateful to my partner Nana for sharing this journey with me, and overjoyed to meet more and more people that also want to share this journey with us! Cheers!

- Kaori