In Spring 2020, The Aloud Charity was excited for young people from their Only Boys Aloud choirs to perform in Japan, following a new partnership between Wales Arts International, the Arts Council of Wales, The British Council, and the Japanese Embassy. Although this trip was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the partners were determined to keep the planned singing project alive.
In 2021, The Aloud Charity launched a virtual choral project with Only Boys Aloud choir members from across Wales and three children’s choirs over 6000 miles away in Kitakyushu, Kumamoto, and Oita.
Following this initial partnership, in Spring 2023 The Aloud Charity continued their work with one of the partner schools, where Only Boys Aloud choir members and pupils from Midorigaoka High School learned and recorded a new bilingual arrangement of ‘Hiraeth’ featuring both Welsh and Japanese languages.
Members of Only Boys Aloud were thrilled to sing in Japanese for the first time. A new video was launched on St David’s Day (1st March 2023) to mark the first anniversary of the Memorandum of Understanding between Welsh Government and the Oita Prefectural Government:
Between 22nd February and 3rd March 2023 a team from The Aloud Charity visited Japan to promote the work of the charity and establish new partnerships for the next stage in this exciting collaboration. The team delivered workshops in 3 schools where they introduced pupils and the people of Japan to Only Boys Aloud repertoire, built connections with local Government officials, arts and cultural departments and companies with bases in Wales. Choir leaders also learned Japanese repertoire to take back to Only Boys Aloud choir rehearsals in the UK.
The trip enabled the team to explore a range of opportunities for future partnership for our Only Boys Aloud choir members and young people in Japan.
“We had a fantastic trip over to Japan. It has been amazing celebrating our two cultures and being able to introduce our Welsh music to the people there. The people we met were all very interested in the work we were doing and to hear about our long-term aspirations to take our singers over there. The workshops we led were hugely enjoyable and it’s great to see that the language of music can travel over 6000 miles. I hope that this is the beginning of a long standing partnership between our two countries and we look forward to working with them again in the near future. This was all of our first visit to Japan and we hope that is won’t be our last.” Craig Yates, Artistic Director, The Aloud Charity
“Connecting new generations across the world feels ever more important. This project between Aloud and schools in Oita places young people at its heart. It has already illustrated that music is an incredibly powerful tool for sharing experiences and for understanding different cultures and languages, whether virtually or in person. With strong foundations now in place, we’re excited to see these new links between Wales and Japan blossom in the coming years.” Nicola Morgan, Senior International Officer, Wales Arts International
The Aloud Charity are proud to be continuing our cultural exchange with schools in Japan, providing opportunities for young people in Wales and Japan to learn about and experience each other’s languages and cultures.