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Hundreds Turn Out to Help Japan at Free Concert

LA Philharmonic violist and Cerritos resident Richard Elegino organizes benefit concert for Japan earthquake-tsunami victims with help from City of Cerritos and U.S.-Japan Council.

A total of 300 Cerritos residents came out to support Japan's earthquake-tsunami victims at the “3.11 Japan Relief Concert” held at the community center last Sunday.

LA Philharmonic violist and Cerritos resident Richard Elegino and his wife Yukiko spearheaded the event alongside the U.S.-Japan Council and the City of Cerritos. Elegino also conducted the orchestra, which was comprised of colleagues who donated their time for this fundraiser.

The earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan in March killed more than 13,000 people and has left thousands homeless.

U.S.-Japan Council’s West Coast Program Director Bryan Takeda told Patch that $6,864.10 in donations were collected from the concert, including the proceeds from refreshement sales. All the proceeds will go to the U.S.-Japan Council’s relief fund, which in turn will directly help residents in the affected areas.

Although the City of Cerritos did not explicitly donate money to the relief efforts, they contributed to the concert by offering the Cerritos Park East community center as the venue and promoting it through the city’s website and other channels.

Cerritos officials, including , attended the event. The Mayor opened the event with remarks about the community’s efforts to help the Japanese people.

“We’re here to stand with [Japan] throughout their ordeal,” Mayor Chen said. “This [concert] is a small token for the efforts to reach out to them.”

Chen said that this event and the “Soles4Soles” shoe drive by the Optimists and Soroptimists shows how Cerritos is a caring city.

Representatives from the Japanese Consulate General Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Heinzel were also in attendance. Heinzel spoke on behalf of firefighters from the department who traveled to Japan to provide disaster relief assistance, including five firefighters from Cerritos Station #30. Also present was Firefighter Specialist Atsushi Uehara from Station #30, who was among the crew who helped in Japan.

After holding a moment of silence for the victims of the March natural disasters, Elegino led his orchestra to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” a somber piece that reflected the sorrow faced by the people of Japan.

In contrast to “Adagio for Strings,” more upbeat pieces followed, with Antonio Vivaldi’s “Spring” from “The Four Seasons” and Mozart’s “Divertimiento No. 1 in D Major” setting the pace of the concert.

Elegino told Patch that the music selection, which also included works from Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Johannes Sebastian Bach, focused on familiar classical tunes to the Japanese.

“The Japanese people know about these tunes and to present them [at this concert], I think they could be healed with this positive energy,” he said. “They are not alone. Even though they are across the ocean, we still care. We can heal with this music.”

Wiping away tears at the end of the concert, Elegino said to Patch that the turnout to the benefit concert was more than he expected.

“I am really happy that there are nice people [from the community] who are generous [to help],” he said. “I felt the people’s generosity and that people still care to do this event for the city. I especially thank Mayor [Carol] Chen and the Cerritos City Council.”

Residents can still donate to the U.S.-Japan Council’s Earthquake Relief Fund by going to their website. Donations to the fund are tax deductible and will directly support immediate relief and the long-term economic recovery and rebuilding of Japan. When filling out the online form, select “3.11 Japan Relief Concert” from the drop-down menu of organizations affiliated with the U.S.-Japan Council Earthquake Relief Fund.

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