Bonds made of a thousand tones

17 August 2017


What started out as a calm and peacefully sunny Friday afternoon on the Pacific coast of Japan, on 11 March 2011, rapidly descended into a scene of devastation and horror for thousands when a magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake hit the Tohoku region, making way for the deadly path of a tragic tsunami.

But for the survivors, a solitary ‘miracle pine’ known as the kiseki no ippon matsu, has become a significant symbol of hope and strength for a stricken region almost wiped off the map. This prodigious pine was the only one of 70,000 planted in the Takata Matsubara forest left standing in the wake of the tsunami, fittingly epitomising both determination and resilience.  

Taking inspiration from the ‘miracle pine’, Japanese violin craftsman, Muneyuki Nakazawa saw an opportunity to create a unique tribute to the tsunami’s victims, taking a small part of the pine together with driftwood thought to be from disaster-damaged homes, to construct the sound-post and body of a memorial violin destined to make itself heard in a concert-relay performed in the hands of 1000 violiinists worldwide.

University of Auckland School of Music graduates, Isomura brothers, Kent (Master of Music with First Class Honours in piano performance) and Shauno (Bachelor of Music with Honours in violin performance) approached The Japan Foundation expressing their eagerness to perform with this special instrument for the first time in New Zealand, as part of the International Tsunami Violin Project. With their request readily approved, Shauno explained how, “it means a lot to us as New Zealand born and raised Japanese to be able to embark on this tour performing to New Zealand audiences on such a special instrument, showing how music can bring people together.”

The Isomura Brothers have impressed across the globe appearing as a violin and piano duo, soloists, and chamber musicians in countries including USA, China, Japan, Malta, Germany and of course New Zealand. Together and as individual artists they have performed in prominent concert halls including the Carnegie Hall, Mozarteum Salzburg, Auckland Town Hall, Cunard Queen Elizabeth’s Queens Room, and have appeared at major events including the Rugby World Cup Road Show Tour and the Mendelssohn International Music Festival, amongst several others.

The talented brothers have now been presented with the greatest privilege of performing with the significantly symbolic Tsunami Violin, touring New Zealand at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber, Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, and St. Andrew’s on the Terrace in Wellington, commemorating the victims of both the Tohuku and Canterbury earthquakes. The programme comprises works of some of the most influential of Japan’s composers, with profits being donated to those effected by the 2011 earthquakes of Japan and Christchurch.

We couldn’t be prouder of Kent and Shauno for all they have achieved since graduating from the University, and we wish them the very best of luck as they embark on the New Zealand leg of the Tsunami Violin concert tour, an absolute must-see which kicks off in Auckland on 5 September.

Kent and Shauno Isomura
Kent and Shauno Isomura