International Collaboration Shines the Spotlight on Inclusion Through Music and Sport
Irish and Japanese Artists Musicians Create Unique Tokyo 2020 Musical Collaboration
Renowned artists from Ireland and Japan have come together to produce a commemorative piece of music to mark the participation of Team Ireland at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. Ireland’s Donal Lunny and Japan’s Hiro Hayashida will combine their talents to compose a piece of music that will feature elements of both nation’s rich musical culture. The musical piece will provide the theme to Team Ireland’s participation at the Paralympic Games in August 2021. The historic collaboration will be unveiled at the ‘ParaBeats’ event that will be hosted live online from Narita city on Thursday, February 11th.
Narita City will be the host city to the Irish Paralympic Team when they compete in Tokyo this year and the City was eager to create a cultural link between both nations to complement the sporting link. After several visits to Dublin since 2018 the Narita City delegation noted similarities between the traditional musical styles of both nations after connecting with Experience Japan. The natural synergy that became apparent lead to this cultural exchange programme from which the composition has been inspired.
The project, which will create awareness of the disability communities in both Japan and Ireland, will see Cara-Sport Inclusion Ireland and Paralympics Ireland work closely with Narita City throughout the project. Experience Japan is an Irish voluntary organisation that celebrates Japanese Culture in Ireland who are integral to the project and have provided a link between the Irish and Japanese musical and cultural communities.
Irish musical legend, Donal Lunny, is joined by the famous Japanese musician, Hiro Hayashida, as composers for the musical piece. Donal Lunny’s name is synonymous with Irish traditional music where he has been a founding member of Planxty, the Bothy Band and Moving Hearts to name a few. Hiro Hayashida is a renowned Japanese musician and is closely associated with his expertise in playing the ‘Taiko Drum’ which is synonymous with celebration in Japan.
The artists are in the process of producing this unique composition which will be played for the first time as part of the Narita City Inclusivity Symposium & Concert next Thursday- ‘PARA Beats! Let’s play courage- A celebration for para-athletes’. The music will also be performed live by a musical group comprised of differently abled musicians as Team Ireland touch down in Narita next August.
The project has been announced today and the music will be officially unveiled as part of the ‘ParaBeats’ online symposium that will be hosted by Narita City live online on Thursday, February 11th at 8am Irish time. The project is also supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Ireland in Japan.
Mayor Koizumi from Narita City introduced the musical collaboration saying ‘I am delighted to hold this positive event with thanks to the great cooperation provided by Mr.Donal Lunny and Mr.Hiro Hayashida, Paralympics Ireland, CARA Sport Inclusion Ireland and Experience Japan. I expect that the event will be successful and will make our friendship between Ireland and Narita city stronger. Covid-19 is still spreading in the world, but we are preparing to host the Irish team in a city that has suppressed the virus. We will endeavour to ensure that this event will create a lasting friendship and legacy and that the athletes will go on to compete at Tokyo 2020 in the best possible condition.
Niamh Daffy, CEO of Cara- Sport Inclusion Ireland stated that “this has been a wonderful international collaboration to be part of, coming together to shine the spotlight on inclusion through music and sport. Appreciating the opportunity to provide the keynote message at the city of Narita symposium next week, Cara is delighted to have formed, what we hope will be a lasting friendship with the city of Narita in sharing our knowledge, experience and expertise on successful developments of disability sport and inclusive physical activity with the aim of leaving a lasting legacy following the Tokyo games”.
Hugo O’Donnell of Experience Japan said “Experience Japan Taiko and the Experience Japan Festival Committee is delighted to be involved in the bringing together of two master musicians Dónal Lunny and Hiro Hayashida to collaborate on this production. The artistic linking of both cultures has been at the heart of our annual festival and we are absolutely delighted to be part of this unique artwork and cultural exchange with its commitment to an inclusive legacy.”
Speaking about the announcement of the musical collaboration Miriam Malone, CEO of Paralympics Ireland said
‘This is such a positive project that we are delighted to be involved in. The Paralympic Games provides such a wonderful opportunity to create a strong and lasting link between Japan, and Narita City in particular, and Ireland. We are well aware of the power of music and the incredible traditional musical histories of both nations so this is a wonderful way to celebrate our growing friendship. I would like to thank our friends in Narita City for their efforts on the Japanese side and CARA, Sport Inclusion Ireland and Experience Japan for the fantastic work they have done on the Irish side. I can’t wait to hear the music for the first time and I know it will provide a massive boost to our athletes as they strive for success in Tokyo.’
Ambassador Paul Kavanagh of the Embassy of Ireland in Japan said “I am delighted to welcome this musical collaboration and performance in Narita City to mark the Tokyo Paralympic Games, particularly as it champions Ireland’s core values of diversity and inclusion. It is particularly welcome that it does so through a musical collaboration featuring such prominent Irish and Japanese musicians, and with the support of the impressive Experience Japan organisation, given the strong musical and cultural connections that already exist between both countries. The joy of music can be shared across culture and time, and the legacy of this collaboration will be sure to resonate far and wide, further strengthening the bonds of friendship between Ireland and Japan.”
Narita City will be the host city to Team Ireland when they travel to Tokyo for an acclimatisation camp before traveling onwards to Tokyo for the 2021 Paralympic Games.
Cara-Sport Inclusion Ireland is a national not for profit organisation which provides a collaborative platform to enhance sport and physical activity opportunities for people with disabilities in Ireland. Cara’s vision of ‘putting disability sport and inclusive physical activity at the heart of our nation’ is achieved through a number of strategic goals such as providing strategic leadership and support, engaging with and listening to people with disabilities and implementation a national capacity building framework to enhance quality participation opportunities for all.
Paralympics Ireland is the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) for Ireland, recognised by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), and is responsible for preparing and managing the Irish team at the Paralympic Games which are held every four years in parallel with the Olympic Games.
Hiro Hayashida is Japan’s leading Taiko performer who appeared at the FIFA world cup closing ceremony in France, Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany and has performed dramatic and powerful Taiko Drumming Shows in 33 countries around the world including Singapore, Holland, France, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Germany, UK, Hawaii, Guatemala, Columbia, Ecuador, Venezuela, China, Senegal and USA.
Dónal Lunny is popularly regarded as having been central to the renaissance of Irish Music over the last three decades. Since the seventies Dónal has had involvement with some of the most innovative bands to emerge from Ireland including Planxty, the Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Coolfin, and more recently Mozaik. He has toured across the world, collaborating with musicians of many different cultures, including collaboration with Kodo (Japan) in the mid-1990’s. He has also spent a period of time living in Okinawa and has developed a strong interest and sensibility for Japanese culture and music.
For this performance Dónal is joined by Cora Venus Lunny (violin), Jamese Mahon (uilleann piper) and Robbie Walsh (bodhrán).
Experience Japan Taiko Team: Founded in 2010 by Nobuko Ijichi, the Experience Japan Taiko Team is made up of UCD students later integrating Japanese-Irish secondary students. The EJ Taiko Team has had major success and is in increasing demand to perform at public and high-profile events (+20 per year) highlighting cultural and friendship links between Japan-Ireland and with other cultural and heritage groups. Special performances include celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Japan-Ireland diplomatic relations; national and international sporting events including Ireland-Japan Rugby matches and the GAA World Games Series, Dublin City Council New Year Festival and many more. Their performances always attract a cross generational audience, drawn in by the dynamic rhythms and the excitement of intercultural discovery and experience.
Experience Japan: Established in January 2010, Experience Japan aims to celebrate, share and promote Japan and Japanese-Irish culture and heritage in Dublin and throughout Ireland. In doing this, it marks the longstanding historical and warm relations and friendships which exist between our countries and peoples. Experience Japan supports and promotes many different events and it is proud to be associated with the Narita City Japan-Ireland Music Fusion Project. Each April Experience Japan organises a free Hanami Festival more details are below.
Experience Japan & EJ Taiko: In July 2018, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Tarō Kōno honoured the EJ Taiko Team in Tokyo for its ‘outstanding contribution to the promotion of cultural exchange through art between Japan and Ireland’. Then in October 2019 Experience Japan and EJ Taiko received the ‘European Languages Label’ Award from the Irish Minister of Education for the work it has done over the last 10 years developing a community of practice and a dynamic environment for students to learn Japanese language and discover Japanese culture.
For 2020 the festival was an online virtual event [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClwtzc3T7XlwYR1BrRLtFIw/videos] . For more information about this and other associated events see
Classic Harmony: An award-winning ensemble having won many competitions including the Family Ensemble category at the Feis Ceoil in Dublin, three years in a row, at the Derry International Choral Festival in 2016 & 2017 and the Mayo International Choral Festival in 2018. They were also finalists in The Soloist competition run by The Cross-Border Orchestra in 2018 & 2019. The group won six gold and two silver medals and reached the Finals at the WCOPA (World Championships of Performing Arts) in Los Angeles. USA in July 2019 and in November 2019 the four vision-impaired members won the Lions World Song Festival for the Blind competition in Krakow, Poland out of 23 competitors from 14 countries.
Four out of five members of the group are vision-impaired, including father – Frank who is a musical director of five choirs in Wicklow and the Visionaries Choir, a choir for blind and vision-impaired people in Dublin. Instrumentally, the vision-impaired members of Classic Harmony were selected to participate in the premiere performance of The Vision Symphony by Dave Flynn with The Irish Memory Orchestra in Ennis in 2019.
The Ensemble covers music in a wide range of genres from Classical to Traditional/Celtic and Popular/Jazz styles; and Christmas music from ancient to modern.