Young artists assist survivors of painful experiences


By David E. Dix

A group of talented young artists try to make a positive contribution to society by creating a service that helps survivors of painful experiences in their lives. Available at, survivors can anonymously post their story. The artists supporting the site will then respond musically, visually, poetically and otherwise. The artists incorporated their services as a non-profit organization.

Janet and I were briefed on the service by Hikari Nakamura, a former student of the Blossom Music Summer Program, the 52-year partnership between the Cleveland Orchestra and Kent State University. The program, a six-week summer session, gives talented musicians from around the world the opportunity to study music by taking master classes in chamber music with members of the Cleveland Orchestra. Students enrolled in the highly competitive program attend for two summers.

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Hikari, a Japanese student who resides in Michigan where her father works for Delphi Automotive Systems, studied in the Blossom program in the summers of 2018 and 2019. The second year she resided with us and we got closer. Both small, pretty and graceful, but very determined, Janet and Hikari instantly clicked. The two were chatting over coffee the morning before Hikari, an award-winning young pianist, made his way to the KSU campus where she trained and studied, often until late in the evening. Hikari was selected to perform with the Cleveland Orchestra at the Blossom Music Pavilion at the end of her summer 2019 session.

She kept in touch and when she told us that she had accepted a position in Leeds, England, we invited her to visit us. She came last weekend and with Janet, Janet’s sister, Jeannie, and our son, Chris, who arrived from her job in Alexandria, we had a wonderful time, Hikari on Sunday morning playing Chopin at our piano for my birthday.

Dave and Sherry Joy, who for years hosted Blossom students in their homes, are the ones who have encouraged us to do the same, which we have been doing starting in the summer of 2016. Kent State’s School of Music continues to look for families to host as this allows wonderful musicians to participate in the Blossom program who otherwise might not be able to afford it.

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Hikari is co-artistic director for piano and electronic music in heARTists with founder, Misaki Saito of California, another award-winning and highly regarded pianist who does piano and photography for the program. I went through the list of young artists participating in heARTists and noticed that many Asians have experienced discrimination in America. They try to respond in a positive way by offering healing services. Victims seeking solace don’t have to be Asians in America.

The types of stories survivors posted on the heARTist website include: bullying and abuse, isolation and neglect, loss and death, emotional pain from COVID, problems with MeToo, depression and more.

Hikari experienced painful discrimination in America, but persevered. When her friend, Misaki Saito, invited her to help her start the nonprofit heARTists, Hikari jumped at the chance to turn her pain into something positive. “As I have had difficult experiences, I believe that every person has a voice worth hearing,” she told us.

Beginning at the age of 12 performing piano concertos in Poland, she became a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where she won the Leonard Slatkin Prize. She performed in other places in America and Europe. She holds an MA in Piano Performance from the University of Michigan, where she graduated with Distinction. She attended the Lynn University Conservatory of Music in Boca Raton on a full scholarship, graduating Summa Cum Laude. For high school, she enrolled in the highly competitive Interlochen Center for the Arts near Traverse City, Michigan.

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While studying for her masters in Michigan, Hikari’s interest in collaborative music persuaded her to apply for admission to the Blossom program which specializes in chamber music, a small group performance that requires precision. She also felt great possibilities in musical performance which includes dance, which is why her new opportunity in England, where she will accompany the Northern Ballet in Leeds, attracts her so much.

The internet and its many services will allow Hikari to continue working with his heARTists friends while in England. As for Janet and I, we enjoy Hikari’s company and hold it in such high regard that we hope the internet will also allow us to stay in touch wherever the wonderful talents of our aspiring, hardworking and kind young friend take her. .

David E. Dix is ​​a former editor of the Record-Courier.

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