Two city choirs from opposite sides of the world are giving each other the gift of music.
The Hiratsuka Civic Choir from Hiratsuka, Japan, a sister city of Lawrence, will arrive in Lawrence this weekend to prepare for a joint concert with the Lawrence Civic Choir.
The two choirs will stage a "Sister City Friendship Concert" Tuesday at the Lied Center. The concert is one of many activities planned to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the two cities' international relationship.
Planning the combined performance was an event in itself, Rob Reid, director of the Lawrence Civic Choir, said.
"It will be an adventure. We e-mailed a lot, and that escalated as we started thinking about what it actually meant to perform -- who would direct, the tempo of the music and other details, like sightseeing and special events," he said.
Reid's contact person in Japan is one of his former students. They met while Reid was working on his doctoral degree at Kansas University. When the student mentioned the Hiratsuka choir to Reid, he sent some music to the Japanese choir.
As part of the concert, the Japanese choir will perform that piece, "Shenandoah," with the Lawrence Civic Choir. The two choirs also will perform together on the Japanese composition "Sukiyaki Song."
For the Lawrence choir, practicing the piece meant listening to a tape that the Japanese choir had sent them. The Americans also received a transliteration of the music. In it, the Japanese musicians had altered the Japanese sounds into English words and notes.
Still, the American group plans on following their counterparts through the song.
"I think we will sing on the soft side and let them carry it since they're stronger with it, and they will do likewise on our music," Reid said.
The Lawrence choir is a 60-member, mixed-voice group, while the Japanese choir is made up of 36 performers. The complete performance will feature the Hiratsuka choir performing several songs, followed by the Lawrence Civic Choir, who will perform American hymns, African- American spirituals and American folk songs.
The two choirs will combine for two songs at the end of the concert.
During their Lawrence stay, the visitors will take tours of Lawrence and Kansas City and perform at some selected churches.
Despite cultural and language differences, Reid is excited at the way music unites people.
"It always seems to be the music. Sharing music bridges gaps. They say music is an international language, and everyone can relate to it in some way," he said. "We're singing for one another, and that brings people together."