This past Monday, the Japan Barrier Free Association held the 13th Gold Concert. The the annual musical competition was started by Yoshihiro Kaiya (read his interview here) to create a positive image of “disabled people” in the minds of average people through music.
The event was held at the largest concert hall in Japan – Tokyo International Forum – and the level of production was outstanding and extremely professional. It felt like a red-carpet event with professional photographers and staff in formal wear guiding guests to their seats. The evening started with greetings from a paralympian and a member of Parliament who has a son with multiple disabilities. For those who were unable to attend the event in person, it there was a live broadcast over the internet thanks to the streaming company, J-Stream.
The contestants came from all across Japan, and even one group had traveled to Tokyo from Korea. The contestants had various disabilities including visual impairments, developmental disabilities, mental illness and physical disabilities like cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy. The youngest was in 6th grade and the oldest was in his 50s. The thing that drew them together though was their amazing musical abilities. The performances were as varied as the contestants and featured standards like singing and piano, to beatboxing to a traditional Japanese wind instrument called the Sho.
After the contestants had all finished, it was time to pick winners. There were numerous awards that including audience choice (via internet voting as well as paper voting in the theater), composition, and performance awards. The top award was decided by a group of judges lead by Reiko Yukawa, a famous Japanese music journalist, lyricist, translator, and radio DJ.
And the winner was… ConstantGlowth from Okinawa!
It was a very special evening and we at Accessible Japan are looking forward to next year! Congratulations to all the contestants. Here is ConstantGlowth’s winning song, Sakura wa mada ka: