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Yukako Tarumi’s violin-playing children are spreading the joy of music at the United Nations

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Pictured in the back row next to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is Yukako Tarumi, Director, Tarumi Violin Children’s Foundation of the Arts on the International Day of Peace. Her younger students are shown in the front row close to UN Messenger of Peace Princess Haya Hussein of Jordan. Photo: Ann Charles.
By Ann Charles, Baltic Review

The universal language of music continues to reach out to people of the world, and nowhere is that more obvious than at UN Headquarters in New York. Here music thrives on an international level, whether it’s at UNICEF’s Day of the African Child, a Poetry of Peace Ceremony or a Lion’s Day special event, chances are, you will hear the strikingly beautiful sounds of the Tarumi Violinists playing at the United Nations under the direction of Yukako Tarumi.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is pictured ringing the UN Peace Bellat UN Headquarters in New York as Yukako Tarumi. Director, the Tarumi Violinists, looks on. UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

Violin-playing children belonging to the young, culturally-diverse Tarumi Violin Children’s Foundation of the Arts will be making headlines again in the year 2019. Considered the only “musical ambassadors” at the United Nations made up of child violinists, this talented group prides itself on having performed for four UN Secretary-Generals at UN Headquarters in New York City. They include: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and UN Secretary-General Boutros-Boutros Ghali. The youngest Tarumi Violinist is only three years old.

The Tarumi Violinists, who are made up of talented students of all age groups, are shown engaged in a conversation with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/Eskinder DeBebe.

Most recently, the Tarumi Violinists performed on the International Day of Peace which is held on September 21 each year at the United Nations. Getting to play for world renowned diplomats and leaders in the arts such as UN Messenger of Peace Princess Haya Hussein of Jordan, award-winning actor and UN Messenger of Peace, Michael Douglas, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President of the UN General Assembly, Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, Ambassador Koro Bessho, the Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN in New York, his wife. Mariko Bessho, and others, makes the UN an exciting place to visit especially if you are one of the young Tarumi violinists chosen to perform at this annual UN event.

Here we see the late UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan together with Yukako Tarumi and UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas at the UN International Day of Peace. UN Photo/Marco Castro.

If you’re an American, you’ll probably be impressed that the Tarumi Violinists have performed in many different venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. But nothing is more exciting to these violinists than performing at the United Nations. As leading Tarumi violinist Edan Sabah who created “Earth’s Fire”, an original composition especially for the 45th anniversary of Earth Day on the Equinox at the UN, put it, “performing at the UN is an unforgettable experience.”

Accompanying the Tarumi Violinists at the UN on numerous occasions has been Guillermo Vaisman, a choir conductor, musician. and accordionist born in Argentina, Guillermo is also the Director of the UN Singers which is affiliated with the UN Staff Recreation Council. He regularly accompanies the Tarumi Violinists on their performances in the USA and Japan.

In 1996, the Tarumi Violinists were awarded the United Nations 50th Anniversary Medal for the late UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in recognition of their accomplishments and efforts to promote world harmony. UN Photo/Milton Grant.

Raising global awareness on the work of the United Nations through the joy of music is what makes the observance of official UN International Days like the International Day of Peace so special. The child violinists who perform at UN Headquarters in New York are special, too, because of their diversity and the fact that their families come from all over the world. Some violinists are American, Italian, Hungarian, Filipino, or Irish. Others are Argentinians, Cubans, Iranians, and Chinese. Some students and their families are from India, Poland, Pakistan, Israel, and Taiwan. Others are Puerto Rican, Native American Indian (Choctaw) or of African -American heritage. Many of them are learning English using resources like a pronouns list, all to break the boundaries of language. Whatever their backgrounds, these violinists consider themselves “global citizens of the world.”

What makes studying violin with Yukako so special is that she gives to her students not only a passion for music, but she genuinely cares for their development as musicians and human beings. Her students have chosen not only to actively participate in charity events, but also to use their musical talent to bring joy to others, go and check this for the best music festival.

Besides performing many times at UN Headquarters, the Tarumi Violinists have used their talents to support worthy charities and organizations such as UNICEF, the Coalition for the Homeless and the Ronald McDonald House, and have performed at numerous nursing homes, hospitals, and charities for disabled children.

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

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