Chatting with Doug!
January 6th, 2018: Shin Aoyama, HFP Excellent Volunteer of 2017
Doug: You are the first-ever recipient of the Certificate of Excellence and Appreciation from HFP. What was your reaction when you learned about the honor?
Shin: I am greatly honored to be awarded the Excellent Volunteer of 2017. It has been a pleasure to work with HFP and in the organization I was able to learn and grow a lot. I am so thankful that I was able to meet and work under such great people.
Doug: You clearly exemplify the award's principles! As one of the early volunteers at Harmony for Peace, you may have been one of the youngest volunteers we've had! Why was it so important to get involved with Harmony For Peace (HFP)?
Shin: When I first started volunteering at a young age the purpose for volunteering was to get to know people and learn how to work in a group environment. Following instructions correctly and fulfilling them to the best of my ability was the greatest challenge. The exposure to leadership from a young age grew my leadership skills. As I grew older and learned about the goal and vision of HFP I valued the perspective provided by the organization. Being involved in an organization such as HFP provided valuable perspective and ways of thinking I did not before about the issues the world faces today. It’s crucial in today’s world to have an open mind, accepting other people’s views and ideas.
Doug: Volunteerism and open-mindedness may be two of the greatest gifts someone can possess! What has been the most fun about the HFP events you've worked on at the Kimmel Center and New York concerts?
Shin: It is easy to buy a ticket and sit in the audience to watch a magnificent art performed right in front of your eyes. But there is also another type of art, the art of organization, providing the performance to the audience that happens in the background. The feeling of running the show and being “in” on stuff is a feeling that cannot be achieved unless you’re backstage. In addition, when I’m backstage I am able to interact with the performers. I can listen to the incredible story each and one of them have to offer. Traveling the world and performing in front of countless amounts of people is something I will not be able to experience for myself, but I can experience it through them. Or the young performers fueled by passion and the pure love towards music. It makes me remember why I wanted to fly and become a pilot. Even though the dreams we are chasing are different, what fuels us is the same. There’s nothing more interesting and beautiful as an individual with their story.
Doug: I Have no doubt you will be a successful in your endeavors as the performers, producers and managers are in their's! As you've gotten older, how has your time with Harmony for Peace taught you any life lessons?
Shin: What causes problem in the world is through people, what solves problems in the world are also people. I was able to witness the power of individuals coming together becoming more powerful than a single individual can ever be. In addition I felt the power of music. Music is a universal language that touches everyone’s heart and everyone can relate to. I learned to work with people and learned how to work with individuals. I took in much leadership I can and got to learn firsthand how events are made possible.
Doug: Peace and cooperation have limitless applications! When it came time to look at college, you really wanted to be accepted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado? What is your life's ambition, and why? How do you think your time volunteering with Harmony for Peace will help you as you pursue a career in the Air Force?
Shin: The Air Force Academy in Colorado was my number one choice. Since I was small I was fascinated with flying. The freedom provided in the sky combined with the breath taking sights out of the window I wanted to have more of that. On March 11, 2011 Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake. My family being from Japan and having relatives over there I was greatly affected by this natural disaster. In such dark times the United States Military was the only foreign aid that was there within the first 24 hours. The United States Air Force can bring aid to people in need faster than any other resource this world can provide. Because of this I wanted to become a pilot in the United States Air Force through the academy. Volunteering for HFP from a very young age I was exposed to many different types of leaders. I was able to observe how different leaders interacted and I was able to start forming my style of leadership. It helped me from a young age develop my character.
Doug: Sometimes out of crisis and natural disasters come great accomplishments by those affected!And was the Air Force really your motivation for getting into the Academy in Colorado? Or, could it be because you're very close to the ski slopes?!? (ha ha ha ...) Once you graduate from the Air Force Academy, what will your dream job/life be? A skiing pilot?
Shin: Having the slopes close is nice but the ocean is also nice too. My dream is to become the fighter jet pilot. They go in first in any situation, disasters they are the first to go in to assess the damage. Flying through skies where people are oppressed, I think that a fighter jet is the perfect symbol of freedom, technology, and strength. I want to give hope to much people to as I can.
Doug: No matter where your career takes you, always make a little time for some fun! You are an inspiration to all of us at Harmony for Peace Foundation! What a truly remarkable young man is Shin Aoyama! Proud to call him my friend!
January 3rd, 2018: Paris Aspen Arin, Junior Peace and Music Ambassador 2016
Doug: What was your most important mission as a Harmony for Peace Junior Ambassador?
Paris: My most important mission started with my own self. I have to be exemplary student and human being because everything starts with the person on the mirror, yourself. I tried to give the message of hope to children in the face of difficulties in the world. There are so many bad things are happening and children are the most affected of all. But music gives hope, sheds some light and shares love. Its the love that makes us heal.
Doug: Describe your reactions at being asked by HFP to perform at both Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center?
Paris: I was very excited, happy and honored to perform with HFP. I believe in it and I always do my best at these performances. I would like to thank Mrs. Torii for inviting me to these wonderful concerts at these prestigious concert halls.
Doug: What favorite artist or composer has influenced you?
Paris: I love Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I love his music, I love the emotions he expressed throughout his music and I love the his melodies. My teachers Dr. Irene Fox, Dr. Paul Posnak, and Jonathan Keith have influenced the way I play piano since I was 2.5 years old.
Doug: Tell me about the inspiration for, "Sonatina in the Woods?"
Paris: I have been writing and drawing stories since 6 years old. Its a passion of mine. The series were inspired by my lovely, happy, and clumsy dog Sonatina. She is always with me and every moment somehow she gives me ideas for a story.
Doug: Will there be a sequel to "Sonatina?" Give us a sneak preview!
Paris: I have many projects about Sonatina’s Adventures. I am on the research stages of new Guide Books for Grand Canyon and Empire State Building. I already finished the stories for Sonatina’s Adventures with Shekaspeare, Coca Cola (Dr. Pemberton) and Van Gogh. We are also working on a cartoon series.
Doug: You have some of the most lavish on-stage outfits. Who or what inspires those ensembles?
Paris: My mom and me decide on the outfits depending on the venue. Recent fashion trends inspires the clothes and my mom is incredible with fashion. She puts them together as costumes. I love my boots, and my headbands.
November 13th, 2017: Joseph Hsia, Junior Peace and Music Ambassador 2017
Doug: Joey, how does it feel to be the 2017 Harmony for Peace Foundation Peace & Music Ambassador?
Joey: I am honored to have been selected as the 2017 Peace & Music Ambassador. The role has given me several opportunities to perform for the benefit concerts and spread the message of peace.
Doug: And those performances have been magical! What do you see as your most important task as an Ambassador?
Joey: My most important task is to represent the foundation and to promote its vision of international peace and understanding through music.
Doug: And music and peace go hand in hand! What do you love about performing in the Harmony for Peace concerts at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts?
Joey: It was an inspiring experience to play in such grand concert halls and in particular to collaborate with top musicians.
Doug: What was your reaction when you were asked to solo with The Philadelphia Orchestra next April?
Joey: I was ecstatic and couldn't believe when I heard my name called. The excitement has lasted for a long time. Now I am looking forward to it. I would like to invite you all to the concert on April 21st, 2018.
Doug: We'll be there! Tell me about your dream job when you get out into the world?
Joey: At this point I am not quite certain of what my dream job would be since I have many interests and hobbies.
Doug: You have a little bit of time before you have to make those decisions! We know you love the violin! But if you could learn another instrument, what would it be and why?
Joey: I would like to learn cello. When I was 3 years old, I always wanted to learn cello because it was bigger than the violin. I also like the grand sound of the cello.
Doug: Let us know when your first cello recital is! Will the Eagles go to, and win, the Super Bowl?
Joey: Probably not because of Carson Wentz's ACL injury.
Doug: Wentz's injury is a devastating blow to the Eagles' chances. But you never know!