The D.C. Youth Orchestra this week tried to cancel a long-standing invitation to perform a series of concerts in Japan starting next week only to receive cries of anguish from the Japanese host group.
Youth Orchestra officials, after telling the Japanese group they were unable to raise enough money to transport 103 children and 14 staff members, were informed by their would be hosts that at least six concert halls in Japan had been sold out in advance.
"We have a serious problem in terms of their reactions," said Robert Maroney, president of the Friends of the D.C. Youth Orchestra. He said the group has raised only about $27,000 of $180,000 needed to send the entire group.
Maroney said a compromise possibility was raised yesterday among orchestra officials and members in which only about 60 children would make the trip - if another $50,000 could be raised to cover air fare. If the smaller group went, the Japanese agreed to cover expenses in Japan.
But Maroney said he was worried about the effects of the compromise that would leave out almost half the children.
"I have reservations on what it will do to the organization" he said. "I know some (children) will be lost. They worked hard for this. Many parents are disturbed by this."
Maroney said State Department officials have been informed by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo of what he says could be an embarrassing problem. But he said the State officials were not optimistic yesterday about finding more money for the trip.
The trip also included a week's stay for the orchestra at a Japanese music camp and youth orchestra faculty conferences with various Japanese conductors to explain the D.C. program.
The D.C. Youth Orchestra - which is supported by the D.C. school system, federal grants, and private funding - will leave Friday for a performance Sunday in London, Ontario, at the International Music Education Conference. The orchestra was scheduled then to leave New York for Japan on Monday.
Maroney said youth orchestra programs were very active in Japan, and attracted much interest there. In contrast, he said, "We've contacted every major corporation you can think of. People do not come out for youth orchestras here."