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An unforgettable memory

October 9, 2019

Setsuko Thurlow addresses audience in Jordan Hall before the LSO performs. Photo: Steve Lipofsky

[Hiroshima survivor and ICAN campaigner Setsuko Thurlow was honored in Boston on October 5, when the Longwood Symphony Orchestra hosted a special evening at the New England Conservatory of Music’s Jordan Hall as part of its 2019 Healing Art of Music™ program. For the second year, the LSO selected IPPNW and Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility as community partners, and hosted the event as a benefit for the two organizations. Ms. Thurlow delivered the following remarks before the concert. She also spoke earlier in the evening at a special reception.]

As a young teenage survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I have an unforgettable memory.

Only two years after that catastrophic bombing, my school was able to build a new building in the midst of the total devastation of the city.  The school was also able to bring together all these fortunate surviving girls like me, and formed a choral group.  This was for the purpose of performing Handel’s Messiah for the entire city at Christmas.  About one hundred of us seriously, with a sense of pride, practiced every day under the conductorship of an American missionary teacher.

Can you imagine, in the midst of the devastation, where survivors’ lives were focused only on day by day existence, people lined up to get into the brand-new auditorium and were guided into the world of magnificent music by Handel!

Can you imagine what that experience meant to everyone, both performers and audience?  Regardless of the difference of culture, religion, language and physical condition, the power of music comforted, healed and inspired everyone’s soul.

To the members of the Longwood Symphony Orchestra, I would like to offer my deep thanks, for what you are about to create and share with us, and for your long-term commitment to bring healing to our community.  Thank you, members of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility for your inspirational global leadership.  Thank you to everyone who has gathered here tonight.  Your gift will inspire and strengthen us to continue on with our task of making our world free of nuclear weapons for future generations.

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  1. Sharing a story of survival | IPPNW peace and health blog

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