Cellist sends positive messages to Japan
Hiroko Oikawa / Special to The Daily Yomiuri

Czech cellist Vladan Koci has performed in Japan once or twice a year since 1994. Over this 17-year-period, he has increasingly found it more spiritually rewarding to perform at hospices, orphanages and senior homes in Japan and around the world.

"I've met so many nice people who are supporting good things in the world, such as Amnesty International, organizations in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and people working for charity," Koci said in an interview for The Daily Yomiuri ahead of his Japan tour to mark Amnesty International's 50th anniversary.

Among his many experiences, including a short performance at the memorial park in Hiroshima, Koci, 47, remembers a moving encounter a few years ago with a woman dying at a hospital in Suwa, Nagano Prefecture.

"The doctors wouldn't allow her to come to the concert. Instead, they asked me to come to play in the room for her...I was playing only Bach's cello solo...The room was small, people were there, and the chair was low, so I was very uncomfortable. But the music was so strong," Koci recalled. Something--be it the music, the energy, or an act of God--directly affected the woman, he explained. "Then her doctors allowed her to go to the concert, because everybody had felt something special."

Koci learned the woman died peacefully three days later while listening to a CD recorded by him and his family.

A professor at the Prague Conservatory and international performer of solo and chamber music, Koci says he is increasingly choosing to involve himself in this kind of activity. "I believe music is something that connects us with the eternal world; it helps us understand life--especially when people are in a difficult situation. It's important to think about things that are bigger and higher than our world here...It's the most important thing you can do with music."

Koci also has played across the globe with the Prague Cello Family, an ensemble with his cellist wife, his son--also a cellist trained at the Juilliard School in New York and now studying physics and medicine at a U.S. university--and his daughter, a violin student at the Prague Conservatory.

The profits from Furusato: Prague Spring (2008), one of the group's three albums, have helped sick children in Chernobyl and Iraq through the Japan Chernobyl Fund, organized by Dr. Minoru Kamata, writer and honorary director at the Suwa Central Hospital.

Koci's passion for such charitable causes is deeply rooted in his appreciation for the people who supported him during his Soviet-era imprisonment. For eight months in 1988 and 1989--the last two years of the communist regime--Koci, already the principal cellist with the Prague Chamber Opera, was imprisoned by the Czechoslovakian government after he refused to join its military. In 1989, he was released during the Velvet Revolution.

"The time wasn't simple because we didn't know the change would come so soon...In such a situation, suddenly you can see who is your friend and who isn't any more," he recalled. At the time, his family received letters and material support from around the world, much of it from Amnesty members, Koci explained.

"After the change of the political system I decided to support these [charitable] activities...This world is getting smaller and smaller. What happens in other countries is important to us...We try to help each other," he said.

Koci's program on this tour includes his own composition, "Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD," inspired by Psalm 130. It was a piece he wrote after his release.

"I'm not a composer, but I felt I had to write the music...It is like a prayer from my heart to God," Koci said. "It was an interesting experience for me to see that God can use you to do anything."

The piece describes the inner struggle Koci went through during his imprisonment and his dialogue with his wife and son, he explained. The music is mostly dark, but there is some light, he said.

Koci admits many people have asked him why he was traveling to Japan at this time, but he said now is the best time to come, as he wishes to support positive causes.

"In a difficult time like this, we have to think we have a short time to live. We have to ask why we are here," Koci said.

"The main reason why we are here is to do our best to make this world better...Look for God and try to do the best for other people," he added. "Such a hard experience can help us understand [why we are here]. But we have to ask for and to take positive things."

Vladan Koci will perform with pianist Ena Ariyoshi on April 23 at 6:45 p.m. at Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall in Yokohama. Call Amnesty Kanagawa at (090) 6471-7542; April 27 at 6:30 p.m. at Doshisha University Kanbai-kan Hardy Hall in Kyoto; April 30 at 3 p.m. at United Church of Christ in Japan

Toyonaka Church in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture. For Kyoto and Osaka concerts, call Amnesty International Osaka Office at (06) 4395-1313.

(Apr. 22, 2011)
by koci50 | 2011-05-14 22:30 | Vladan Koci について