This talented teen proves that music has the power to cross geographic boundaries and to empower young people.
Justin Koga believes in the power of music. He has spent the last two years fundraising to buy new musical instruments for schools in Costa Rica that serve at-risk youth.
After winning the Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, the 16-year-old teen from California had the opportunity to work with an orchestra conductor from Costa Rica. This led to Koga teaching cello at volunteer-run music schools in Costa Rica. But when Koga arrived to teach, he saw that there weren’t enough instruments for all the students who wanted to learn.
Justin returned home to the U.S., held benefit concerts that raised $20,000, and then returned to Costa Rica the next year with new instruments for the students. When presenting the students with their new instruments, Justin said, “The kids were all crying and hugging me. I felt like crying too.” At that moment, he saw the true meaning and power of giving back.
“I believe that music has transcendental powers. It has changed my life. When one’s goal is to share their love of music with others, there is room for the whole world to participate in its dialogue. It changes one’s life from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Music has shown me how to look beyond myself and see the awesome beauty and limitless potential in others and the world around me,” he said.
This summer, Justin will return to Costa Rica as featured soloist to perform with the SiNem Cobano music school orchestra—amongst students who will perform with the instruments he donated last year. In addition to ongoing fundraising for the Costa Rica program, Koga and the Mezo Concerts team plan to launch tuition-free online music tutorials. “Everyone has to have a right to learn music.”
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Do you have an Act of Male Goodness to share? Or know someone who should be profiled in this series? Email Kristi Dale ([email protected]) with ‘100 Acts of Male Goodness’ in the subject line.Photo: Mezo Concerts