By APRIL GUILMET
Union Leader Correspondent
LONDONDERRY -- Traveling to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl earlier this year, members of the Londonderry High School Lancers Marching Band had very few chances to interact with students in other bands during their stay.
During their entire tour, the Lancers and their parent chaperones had such a hectic schedule they saw just one other high school perform: the North Japan Green Honor Band.
Both bands marched in the Rose Bowl Parade and both performed at Bandfest, a special field show held at Pasadena City College. The Green Band performed immediately before the Lancers during Bandfest, giving the American students a passing glimpse of Japanese culture, manners and musical talent. “We were all lined up together. They spoke no English, but they all had this universal smile,” parent Pollyann Winslow recalled yesterday afternoon, remembering how the Green Band performed not only the American national anthem but also selections from “The Sound of Music.”
Last month, members of the Lancers community were saddened to learn that countless members and relatives of the Green Band had been directly affected by last month’s massive earthquake and tsunami.
“My daughter came home from band class that day and told us the earthquake had struck the area right where this band was from,” Winslow said.
Based in northern Japan, at least one member of the Green Band has been confirmed dead following the disaster, and countless more have lost their homes during the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.After learning more about the Green Band’s mission — the band itself was formed a decade ago to perform benefit concerts for disaster victims — members of Lancer nation knew they wanted to help.
During its trip to the Rose Parade, the Green Band held a fundraiser to benefit the families of firefighters who died in the Station Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles.
Over the past five years the Green Band has raised more than $30,000 to help disaster victims around the globe. The band has had over 1,000 high school and college students participate in its cause over the years and 180 band members performed at the Rose Bowl this past January.
In the days following the disaster, Londonderry High School Music Director Andy Soucy contacted Junichi Naito, acting director of the Green Band.The letter he received in return was humbling.
Naito said the band is once again doing what it does best: raising money and awareness, this time for a cause so much closer to home.
“The Green Band is working hard to help restore conditions to normal as quickly as possible,” Naito wrote. “We have begun holding charity concerts in all areas to help provide comfort to victims, even while many of us also have suffered from the effects of these disasters.”
According to Naito, an estimated 10,000 people were killed in his native Tohoku region and thousands more are still homeless.
“We are told that among the Green Band members are high school and college students who have lost parents, brothers and/or sisters,” he said. “But we believe that warm sympathetic music can resonate within the hearts of those who are in grief and despair.”
Touched by the Lancers’ generosity, Naito vowed that “at some future time when we have the opportunity, we will bring a new band to America and show our thanks by performing a concert in token of our desire to repay your kindness.”
The Londonderry High School Friends of Music are currently accepting donations to assist their friends in Japan. All proceeds will be sent directly to the Japanese school system to assist children and their families recovering from the natural disasters.
The Friends of Music will also host a benefit concession stand on Thursday night, April 7, during the high school National Honor Society’s dodgeball tournament.
The dodgeball tournament, which itself will raise money for earthquake relief efforts, will take place at 6:30 p.m. at Londonderry High School.