Sweet sounds from the heart
IT seems contradictory that tens of thousands of Japanese people have seen Lismore's Isabella A Capella group perform while most Northern Rivers residents have not.
However, in the lead up to the group's 2013 Japanese tour, director Dylan Curnow said it did not worry him.
"Making a really entertaining show is our focus," he said.
Isabella A Cappella was founded in 1984 by singer Isabella Atcheson to give aspiring singers at Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education, now Southern Cross University, an opportunity to perform and grow their talents.
In 2000, after another music group cancelled a gig in Japan, SCU Japanese student liaison officer Tazuko McLaren booked Isabella A Cappella in their place.
"(Isabella A Cappella) got a great response from the Japanese people over there," Mr Curnow said.
"A person saw the group and wanted them to come back over to Japan and perform a corporate gig at an art gallery. It grew from there."
Ms McLaren soon booked the group more Japanese tours and the group made enough money to fund SCU's Japan-Australia Centre, which was formally opened in 2004 and supports more than 200 Japanese students annually during their studies at the University.
Isabella A Cappella will perform in front of large audiences during its upcoming Japanese tour, to be held from January 10 until February 1.
"We'll perform at 30 venues including hospitals, nursing homes, universities, kindergartens, high schools, temples and radio shows," Mr Curnow said.
"The whole idea is to build the cultural relationship between Japan and Australia."
The singers will also hold a special concert in Fukushima for children who were orphaned when the tsunami hit hard last year.
The group will perform blues, pop and folk cover songs, including some Japanese numbers, with mainly their voices.