Symphony’s Lyrical Celebration

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From left, Bravo Award recipients Michelle and Ed Klunk, June Kuramoto, Ruth Watanabe and Steve Morikawa, representing American Honda Motor Co. Inc., were recognized at the Asia America Symphony Association and Guild Gala held on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles. Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

From left, Bravo Award recipients Michelle and Ed Klunk, June Kuramoto, Ruth Watanabe and Steve Morikawa, representing American Honda Motor Co. Inc., were recognized at the Asia America Symphony Association and Guild Gala held on Sunday in downtown Los Angeles. Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

Asia America Symphony Association hosts annual Bravo Awards Gala.

AASA Music Director David Benoit joins Kuramoto in a performance of Hiroshima’s “Thousand Cranes.” Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

AASA Music Director David Benoit joins Kuramoto in a performance of Hiroshima’s “Thousand Cranes.” Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

By GWEN MURANAKA
RAFU ENGLISH EDITOR IN CHIEF

There was Mozart and koto, and even some Bart Simpson, at the Asia America Symphony As¬sociation’s Bravo Awards Gala held on Sunday at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The an¬nual benefit for the youth orchestra, featured talented young musicians who performed selections ranging from the theme to the “Simpsons” to the overture to Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” all under the leadership of Music Director David Benoit.

“This was our best year ever and we couldn’t have done it without you,” said Benoit. “At a time of budget cuts, this group is going stronger than ever. In a time of, isn’t this great that people really care about music?”

More than 300 attended the Bravo Awards which paid tribute to volunteer parents Michelle and Ed Klunk, koto¬ist June Kuramoto, community leader Ruth Watanabe and American Honda Motor Co. for its corporate support.

The Klunks were honored for their volunteer work with the orchestra. Their son Justin, who plays saxo¬phone, joined the youth orchestra in 2005 and is graduat¬ing high school this year.

“They teach the kids how to be better musicians and better people,” Michelle said.

Kuramoto, who joined Benoit for a performance of the Hiroshima classic “Thousand Cranes,” noted that she has moved from classical koto to jazz and composition. This year Hiroshima is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

“Writing and performing are life’s gifts to me,” Kura¬moto said. “To me music is invaluable; I am so grateful I found the gift of music and I hope everyone finds their gift, their passion.”

Emcees David Ono and Tamlyn Tomita share a laugh with Supervisor Don Knabe during the silent auction.  Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

Emcees David Ono and Tamlyn Tomita share a laugh with Supervisor Don Knabe during the silent auction. Photos by GWEN MURANAKA/Rafu Shimpo

Watanabe, a longtime supporter of AASA and a mem¬ber of its board of advisors, was recognized for volunteer work. She currently serves on the UCLA Foundation Board of Governors and the Keiro Senior HealthCare board of directors.

“I enjoy music but beyond that I believe that music can help achieve greater understanding among people,” Watanabe said.

Steve Morikawa, corporate community relations, Ameri¬can Honda, represented the automotive manufacturer which was recognized for its philanthropic work. Honda donated a 2009 Honda Accord to the AASA for its opportunity draw¬ing. The car was won by Dr. Donald Okada.

The Asia America Symphony Orchestra recently performed with Tony Award winning singer Lea Salonga at the Japan America Theatre. On July 10, the orchestra will play at Walt Disney Concert Hall with a 400 member chorus of Japanese and Japanese Americans at the Bridg¬ing USA and Japan Concert.

For information on the concert visit www.asiaamericasymphony.org or call Ticketmaster at (213) 365-3500 for tickets.

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