In the heart of New York City, a group of Japanese businessmen living far from their homes and families is united by an unexpected passion.The New York Men's Choir is composed of fifty Japanese businessmen currently residing in New York. The choir unites a diverse cross-section of Japanese men: small firm employees and elite businessmen from major corporations; bachelors and married fathers; retired seniors and high school teenagers. They come from different backgrounds and towns across Japan, but have two things in common: a love for singing and a love for the culture they left behind.
When their Japanese companies relocated the businessmen to America, most had to leave their families behind in Japan. Thus, the choir becomes a treasured place where members can meet others experiencing similar feelings of alienation and loneliness. One such member, Yutaka Yanagimoto, is a newlywed who left his wife behind in Japan so that she could continue her career. Because Yanagamoto works for a small firm with only one other colleague in America, he never misses the weekly choir rehearsals or dinner and drinks afterwards. He explains, "In New York, that's the only time I can have a dinner with someone else."
For those members who have been living in the U.S. for decades, the atmosphere of the choir offers a means to transport themselves back to the language, customs and culture of home each week, if only for a moment. Brian Yukio Kubo, a retired senior in his 70s, came to the U.S. when he was 25 and has lived here ever since. He had not heard traditional Japanese music for many years, until he came across the men's choir singing at a charity concert at a church in his neighborhood and felt compelled to join.Others are drawn to the choir out of a desire to participate in and contribute to their new community. Makoto Inoue, a bank officer and married father of two children, worked in an office located on the 90th floor of the World Trade Center. After escaping the buildings on September 11th, Inoue felt so grateful to the firefighters who saved his life that he wanted to give something back to Americans. The choir, via their many community concerts and events, gives him this chance.
Shall We Sing? follows the New York Men's Choir over the course of one year as they prepare for their annual Christmas concert. Through their weekly rehearsals, in their homes, out for evenings of karaoke and cocktails, away at overnight training camps, and during volunteer concerts all over New York, the members gradually build a unique vocal harmony and a very strong bond.
However, these businessmen must move at their company’s discretion, each never knowing when or where he will be transferred next. The choir experiences frequent farewells, and is never allowed to stay the same for long.
Shall We Sing? is an intimate look at the lives of fifty Japanese men who meet each other in the middle of a big city in a foreign country. Bound by their passion for music, they form a community of their own.