- ソプラノ歌手（後出 vocalist は声楽家）
- put one's all into ～
- Ave ... Mary
- 被爆のマリアに捧げる賛歌（(be) dedicated to ～ は～にささげられる、bombed は被爆の、statue と後出 image は像）
- 作曲家（後出 compose は作曲する）
- Urakami Cathedral
- (be) reduced to rubble
- 無傷の（後出 scarred は傷ついた）
- (be) reduced to a black pit
- debut ～
- Great Hanshin Earthquake
- 阪神大震災（後出 Great ... Earthquake は東日本大震災）
- evacuation center
- choral group
- disaster area
- (be) on a break
- treasure ～
Voice of Hope
Soprano Colon Erika, 37, has long put her all into one song in particular: "Ave Maria," dedicated to the bombed statue of the Holy Mary in Nagasaki.
Erika, the daughter of a Belgian composer father and a Japanese vocalist mother, was born in Caracas, Venezuela. The family moved to Japan when she was 10. In 2000, Erika went on a backpacking trip to Nagasaki. There, she visited Urakami Cathedral, and encountered the "Bombed Maria" for the first time.
Urakami Cathedral, built in 1914, was reduced to rubble by the A‐bomb dropped on the city on Aug. 9, 1945, but the head of the church's 2‐meter‐tall Virgin Mary statue miraculously survived, though not unscathed. Its eyes were reduced to black pits, its cheek scorched.
"The Virgin Mary statues I had known before were beautiful, so this one came as a shock," says Erika. "But this scarred image has also become an object of prayer for A‐bomb survivors, and I felt that it was a symbol of hope for survival."
When Erika told her father about the experience, he composed a piece dedicated to the damaged statue. She debuted the piece at Urakami Cathedral the following year and has performed it in and out of Japan dozens of times annually since.
Erika decided she wanted to be a singer following the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, when she was a third‐grade junior high school student. Her family home in Kobe was destroyed, but she visited evacuation centers numerous times with her parents' choral group to perform.
"Tears came to the eyes of both the singers and the people listening, and it was the first time I felt both sides' hearts melting together," says Erika. "Songs have the power to connect people."
Following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Erika did charity concerts and taught choral groups in the disaster areas. She was on a break since January this year to give birth to her fourth child with husband and Venezuelan Ambassador Seiko Ishikawa. She returned to performing in May.
"There is a tendency now to place a lot of value in money and material things, but I want to treasure the things we can't see," she says.