The G 7 Summit will be held in Hiroshima May 19, 2023 - Sunday, May 21, 2023.
The present Ukraine brutal wartime situation is frighteningly close to us in Warsaw. The threat of the use of nuclear weapons by Russia makes the relationship between Warsaw and Hiroshima increasingly important. This post is the record of a serious past gesture of peace by this magnificent orchestra and a timely reminder of moral values and respect for the individual human life. 'Music for Peace'. I am also well aware of the difficult decisions of conscience that Japan faces concerning foreign policy concerning this crisis.
I am happy to inform you that the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra will
present their subscription concert on May 18th 2023, which is just one day
before the G7 Summit in Hiroshima starts. How appropriate that the G 7 summit
will be held in Hiroshima!
The renowned Japanese violinist Midori joins this concert as a soloist.
I hope the press accompanying the summit will discover the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra as a strong symbol of peace, as I witnessed when I visited Hiroshima.
A moving comment on this post from India, January 2023:
“This article is a great reminder of the power of
music to bring people together and to promote peace. The work of the Music for
Peace Project in Hiroshima is truly inspiring. I love the idea of using music
to bring together people from different backgrounds and to create a sense of
understanding and connection between them. It's a powerful way to show that we
all have something in common and to celebrate our shared humanity. This project
is a great example of how music can be used to bridge divides and to promote
peace and understanding”
The European Council President Charles Michel visited Japan where he visited the city of Hiroshima on Friday May 13th 2022.
In 1945 that city suffered the first atomic bombing, and Michel used a visit to a memorial there to discuss the current state of global security.
Please browse this relevant account sometime ….. the account of Chopin played on Akiko’s piano that survived the bomb (although this innocent young girl Akiko did not) is desperately moving.
As I said before, a timely reminder …..
This appalling nuclear device was many times less powerful than those of today.
The EU leaders and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said in a joint statement released after the talks :
"We remain committed to the ultimate goal of realizing a world without nuclear weapons, regardless of the current severe international situation."
European Council President Charles Michel laid flowers at the cenotaph for atomic bomb victims at the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, western Japan, on May 13, 2022. (Kyodo)
|The Pigeon of Peace in flight from the Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park|
This evening I have just arrived in Hiroshima in Japan from Warsaw on this is my first visit to the country. Such a long and tiring journey from Poland but worth every minute given the humanist aim. I intend to keep a daily internet journal of my experiences here over the next four days as part of an initiative known as the ‘Music for Peace’ project. Perhaps a few more personal observations as well.
The concept brings together communities of different nations and cultures, in this case musicians from Poland, France and Japan, performing together and engaged in workshops and commemorative activities with the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra. This laudable aim is to achieve closer international cooperation and understanding. The passionate love of the music of Fryderyk Chopin in Japan scarcely need underlining. In the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition organised by the National Fryderyk Chopin Institute (NIFC) in 2015, of the 455 pianists from 45 countries who applied, 88 were from Japan which was 20% of the total pianists who hoped to take part in this world famous event. Music is beyond words and is an universal uplifting message to humanity.
At present such a move appears increasingly necessary as the threat of nuclear confrontation in the world inexorably increases.
Modern Hiroshima - evening February 21st
I wish to warmly thank the initiators of this project - the Project Adviser, Mr. Shoji Sato of the Kajimoto music agency and Secretary to the great Argentinean classical pianist Martha Argerich in Japan. Also to thank the great pianist herself who wishes to connect through music the triumph and indestructibility of the human spirit that rebuilt Hiroshima and Warsaw following the unspeakable horrors of WW II. She has been appointed Peace and Music Ambassador of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra. Music communicates effortlessly beyond language and can leap cross-cultural barriers promoting concord and understanding between nations. Yet can one merge Western and Eastern notions of art into an aesthetic that could promote world peace? One must at the very least maintain the faith to believe so.
The relationship between Poland and Japan is not a subject that is sufficiently considered, if thought about at all. 'Music for Peace' is an important humanist and musical celebration of the valiant national inspiration that rebuilt the great cities of Hiroshima and Warsaw after a catastrophic war. We must never forget these human sacrifices and their spiritual significance. Such conflagrations must never be repeated anywhere - well, one can, in fact must, hope despite Syria, Yemen....need I continue? The shared moral values of both countries, those of family, patriotism and honour were manifest throughout the creative reaction to almost total destruction. Hopefully the 'Music for Peace' project and a mutual love of the music of Fryderyk Chopin will add particularly significant symbolism to the 100th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Japan and Poland to be celebrated in 2020.
In a welcome return since the 1964 Summer Olympics, or Games of the XVIII Olympiad (第十八回オリンピック競技大会 or Dai Sanjūni-kai Orinpikku Kyōgi Taikai), this year will also welcome the arrival of international Olympic teams for the 2020 Summer Olympics or Games of XXXII Olympiad including the Polish Olympic team. In short, the significant year 2020 marks a unique and welcome international coincidence of humanism, musical culture and sport in what promises to be an unprecedented international event in Tokyo witnessed by millions across the world.
|Modern Hiroshima - view at breakfast. |
The city is impressively modern, clean with wide avenues and a prosperous atmosphere. To literally rise like a phoenix from the ashes is nothing short of a miracle of national spirit
Friday 22nd February 2019
As usual with jet-lag I awoke early at 5.00 am and prepared for the full day ahead. As you can see from the above photo the view from the restaurant was dramatic. You can see the symbolic Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome) in the middle distance. Before the horror that occurred at 8:15:17 a.m. local time on 6 August 1945 when the cruelly named 'Little Boy' was delivered, the building was known as the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall.
Before the bomb, the Hiroshima Prefectural Industrial Promotion Hall
After the bomb
Photo: Dean S. Pemberton
|Warsaw 1945 after its meticulously planned annihilation|
|Warsaw - Ruins of the Old Town 1945 and the heroic rebuilding |
The Royal Castle in Warsaw after WW II and the present day
|The Warsaw Skyline today|We (the guest musicians, conductor and guest journalists) laid flowers at the memorial in the elegantly landscaped park adjacent to the extensive museum dedicated to the bomb and the damage it unleashed : human, structural and spiritual.
Before the Cenotaph at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park
Back row Lt to Rt: Makoto Ozone (piano), Kamil Staniczek (Violin, Sinfonia Varsovia, Poland) Nicolas Franco (double bass, Sinfonia Varsovia, Poland) , Shoko Kanai (trumpet)
Front row Lt to Rt: Soichi Sakuma (concert master), Mathias Müller (Timpanist, Gewandhausorchester, Germany) Nadia Médiouni (Violin, Orchestra de Paris),
Christian Arming (HSO principal guest conductor and Music Director, Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liege), Gilles Henry (Violin, Orchestra de Paris),
Robert Markow (music journalist, Montreal, Canada) Michael Moran (author and music critic, Warsaw, Poland)
(note a Pigeon of Peace perched atop the Cenotaph)
|Inside this cenotaph are inscribed the names of nearly 300,000 people who lost their lives when the bomb exploded|
The need to remember this first atomic bomb, the devastation it unleashed then and the exponentially more powerful nuclear threats that are still with us, are powerfully expressed here at the memorial and in the museum visit that was to follow. As recently as September 2017, a thermonuclear device with an explosive power of between 100-370 kilotons was tested. A yield of 100 kilotons would make the test 'only' six times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima (BBC). The 'Music for Peace' project will hopefully become an emotionally expressive tool to at least heighten awareness of the central idea of 'Arming' and 'Disarming'. The old should never forget the history of it, whilst the young must learn of this appalling event and become increasingly aware of existing threats to the future of mankind.
That Hiroshima was the first city in the world to be destroyed by an atomic bomb puts the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra in a unique position to express this human tragedy through music, war being the heinous, irrational obverse of the human coin. Hopefully through music we can move beyond the misleading nature of language to promote an increased degree of international cross-cultural understanding, perhaps even prevent 'ordinary' people (and perhaps furthermore world leaders) from forgetting this terrifying event. In view of these horrors, it came as no surprise to me to learn that the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven is possibly the most widely popular classical music work performed in Japan, hundreds of times each year often with augmented choirs of many thousands of singers.
Threnody (for the Victims of Hiroshima), composed for 52 strings in 1960 by the Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, will be performed at the concert on 18 August 2019. Although written during the period when 'the avant-garde' dominated contemporary music, its soundscape is profoundly aleatoric and personal, evoking the terror of a previously inconceivable scale of death, destruction and suffering resulting from the dropping of the first atomic bomb. A timely reminder given current political events. Penderecki, perhaps even subconsciously, clearly utilized his own deep emotional turmoil experienced during the period of Nazi-occupied Poland. The appalling revelations of Auschwitz-Birkenau and other extermination camps abruptly disinherited the Western mind from its conception of civilized values. From the irrational turbulence of previously inconceivable horror, he created a work both autobiographical yet universal in its expression of unfathomable suffering.
We then turned into the museum entrance for a moving, grueling tour of the result, both instant and long term, of the moment the Enola Gay B29 bomber unleashed a new consciousness of the nature of death upon humanity. It is a superbly laid out but appalling tour. In life a necessary one I felt, assuming one wants to learn the full nature of what it is to be human. However unrealistic idealism can be in our busy technologically dominated lives, one must, really must, reflect occasionally especially now on the irrationally destructive as well as the creatively rational side of what it is to be a human being. Such a visit is as inevitable to human understanding as as a tour of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp in Poland and Treblinka not far from Warsaw where, in the truth of my own visit, 'no birds sing'.
However, the exhibit that moved me the most in this extraordinary museum was not the hugely impressive panoramic photograph of destruction, the dramatic animated installation of destruction caused by the dropping bomb, the video testimonies of survivors (although profoundly moving as some were), the geopolitical history, the design and science of the device, the photos of maimed and burnt bodies from the inferno, the shredded blood-stained dresses, melted bottles, the photographs of the laid waste landscape, the late developing cancers and keloid scars on once beautiful bodies, all were desperately moving. But for me the most affecting was a simple child's tricycle in a glass case.
It belonged to Shinichi, or 'Shin' for short. The little boy had excitedly wanted a tricycle during the war. Obtaining one was more than difficult for his father than finding food but one day the little boy's dream came true and the tricycle appeared. He was playing happily in the garden on his little bike that fateful day when the first 'white-out' phase of the terrible explosion erupted, then came the heat and fires of hell.
The house collapsed on top of him but he was pulled out of the rubble by his grandmother still tightly gripping the handlebars of the tricycle. His face was bleeding and swollen. Lying in his grandma's arms he pleaded for water. He mumbled 'The tricycle....my tricycle...'. She told him has holding the handlebars. Did he give a weak smile? That night Shin died ten days before his fourth birthday.
After a pleasant lunch and some deep reflections I attended the orchestral rehearsals for the coming concert with the conductor Christian Arming.
Christian Arming and the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra rehearsing the 7th Symphony of Beethoven
My interview with the HSO General Manager, Mr. Kenji Igata, was very interesting concerning the history of the orchestra. The orchestra grew out of a military band in Kure City naval base. Surprisingly in 1918, musicians among the detained Germans taught the Japanese how to play western instruments and introduced some of them to Western music in a sort of cultural exchange. Beethoven became the favourite composer of the Japanese music lovers, especially the IXth Symphony. In no other country are there as any performances of this work as in Japan. There have been many hundreds of performances and some recordings. One performance with the conductor Yutaka Sado involved 10,000 singers in the choir! In December each year there is a particularly memorable concert that involves 4,000 choir members. Apparently anyone who wishes and is not tone deaf may sing!
Igata-san is from Nara Prefecture (奈良県 Nara-ken) a prefecture in the Kansai region of Japan. He worked his way up to his present position through dedication to his tasks, at one point he was scouted for his position as Director of the Kansai Philharmonic Orchestra. He believes his orchestra the HSO is developing well already, with overseas appointments and performances.These have included Vienna for the UN Peace concerts, in France at Rouen - Le Havre, South Korea and imminently in Warsaw in Poland in August 2019 with Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire as soloists possibly in the two Chopin piano concertos.
He had many interesting anecdotes to tell, one in particular I found interesting. The owner of the Mushika Cafe, a place popular with melomanes, was commissioned to buy food for the inhabitants of Hiroshima after WW II. He returned with classical music recordings rather than something to eat such was his dedication to music! Following the terrible conflagration of the war, the NHK (an acronym meaning Japan Broadcasting Corporation) required a professional orchestra which led to the formation of the Hiroshima Broadcasting Orchestra.
The first performance in 1963 as the Hiroshima Civic Symphony Orchestra was an all Beethoven programme: The Egmont Overture Op. 84, the Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major Op. 15 and the Symphony No. 5 in C minor Op. 67. In 1970 it became the HSO, a professional orchestra based in Hiroshima, the International City of Peace and Culture. In 1998 Akiyama Kazuyoshi, one of the best-known conductors in Japan, was appointed Principal Conductor and Musical Adviser. He was appointed Honorary Conductor for Life in April 2017. The orchestra received many awards among them the UNESCO 'Dialogue among Cultures ' medal.
As we spoke of orchestral plans for the future, he mentioned that in August 5th/6th 2020 there will be a premiere of a new piano concerto for two orchestras by the Japanese composer Dai Fujikura. Martha Argerich will perform this as the soloist with the Hiroshima Symphony orchestra.
The final appointment of the day was to what turned out to be a truly inspiring visit to the Ushita Junior High School. We (myself together with the renowned music critic Robert Markow from Montreal) were greeted with great courtesy and green tea, first by the headmistress Chiaki Minura and then by a small group pupils and English teachers.
Lt. to Rt. : Shoji Sato, Chiaki Minura, the headmistress of Ushita Junior High School, Robert Markow, Tomie Futakuchi, Michael Moran, Hiroshi Sakaibara
Each student then read a prepared address in English about their personal interests and the ideas behind of 'Music for Peace' and what it means for them.
If you would like to read these concise but excellent uplifting essays in English, hope for a peaceful future indeed from these talented young people.
We were then shown a remarkably moving and emotional video entitled The Piano That Loved Chopin concerning a venerated object known as Akiko's Piano. It featured diary entries made by a young girl Akiko and interviews connected with those connected to the piano. At this point I would like to interpolate a programme note from the Japanese composer Dai Fujikura who today will 'touch this instrument' for the first time (clearly considered sacred in Hiroshima). When discovered, the unplayable piano was expertly restored by the 'Piano Doctor' Hiroshi Sakaibara
Akiko's Piano - Piano Concerto No.4
This special piano concerto was written for the pianist Martha Argerich.
Then why it is called “Akiko’s Piano”?
Who is Akiko?
In Hiroshima, there is a piano which survived the atomic bomb, the smashed glass window from the blast is still stuck to the piano’s body. This piano belonged to a 19 year old girl, Akiko.
Akiko was born in LA to Japanese parents. There was a strong friendship, especially in LA, between the Americans and Japanese people before the Second World War.
Akiko got the piano when she was still in America, this piano is also American, Baldwin, made in Cincinnati. When Akiko was 7, she and her parents moved to Japan, to live in Hiroshima.
She kept practicing the piano, having lessons, and when she was 19 year old, while she was working as a mobilized student, the atomic bomb was dropped. She walked and swam as the bridge had already been destroyed, to her home where her parents were that day. Then, the next day, she died in her parents’ arms. Her parents cremated their daughter’s body under a big persimmon tree which still exists today. Her last words were “Mom, I want to have a red tomato.”
Though naturally this concerto will have “music for peace” as its main message, as a composer I like to concentrate on the personal point of view. This microscopic view to tell the universal subject, is the way to go, I feel, in my compositions : the view of Akiko's, ordinary 19 year old girl who didn’t have any power over politics (and she was born in US, which means she was also an American) At the time of her death, she didn’t know what had happened, or what killed her (radiation poisoning, as she didn’t die from the initial blast).
There must be similar stories to that of this 19 year old girl in every war in history and in every country in the world. Every war will have had an “Akiko”.
I am using two pianos in this concerto, one is the main grand piano, then, the cadenza part of this concerto, perhaps at the end of the concerto, Akiko’s Piano, the piano that survived the atomic bomb will be used, played by the soloist.
To express such an universal theme of “music for peace”, the piece should portray that most personal, smallest point of view. I think that is the most powerful way, and only music can achieve this.
Dai Fujikura (edited by Alison Phillips)
Martha Argerich playing Akiko's Piano. The great Argentinian pianist and winner of the International Chopin Competition in 1965 appeared with the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra for 'An Evening of Peace Concert' on August 5, 2015. Two days later, she visited Chugoku Denryoku Hall and played Akiko’s piano.
“I think the piano loves to play Chopin, strangely enough. Apparently, the girl, Akiko, she used to love Chopin and play Chopin. Maybe the piano has the memory of this.”
HSO also performed the same peace program at Suntory Hall in Tokyo for the first time which was graced by the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. She was subsequently appointed a Peace and Music Ambassador of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra.
We were then invited to comment on this desperately moving video made by students themselves by their own broadcasting club. The renowned pianist Peter Serkin has made a fine CD that he quite spontaneously recorded when first encountering this 100 year old instrument. The sound is reminiscent of a Pleyel pianino of the nineteenth century but was manufactured by the American Baldwin company of Cincinnati.
The video can be viewed here:
I had already noticed the attractively designed, understated uniform of one of the male students. However the next video their club had made concerned the design of the female uniform and even an interview with the elderly lady who had designed it. More discussions followed before this most satisfying and optimistic day concluded among these promising young Japanese students.
Saturday 23rd February 2019
Much of the morning was spent attending rehearsals for the concert and preparing my 'lecturette' for the afternoon.
The musically gifted pianist Makoto Ozone (piano) and the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra under Christian Arming rehearsing the Shostakovitch Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor
There was then to be an afternoon session for around 100 students, members of the public and Hiroshima academia. The afternoon for me began around 4.00 pm with the setting up of my equipment for my small talk entitled 'Music for Peace : Hiroshima – Warsaw - Chopin. A Glorious Rebirth after Catastrophe'
The relationship between Poland and Japan is not a subject that is often considered. The 100th anniversary of Polish-Japanese relations is in 2020 and also the arrival in Tokyo of the Polish Olympic Team. I aimed to clarify a few things and examine the similarities of intention - honour, nobility and courage in deciding to rebuild the two ruined cities. I played piano music of Chopin behind the presentation performed by Daniil Trifonov, Ignaz Friedman, Aikio Ebi, Peter Serkin and Hiroko Nakamura.
Michael Moran giving his illustrated talk
'Music for Peace : Hiroshima – Warsaw - Chopin. A Glorious Rebirth after Catastrophe'
The session opened with a delightful and high quality, elegant and charming performance of the first movement of Mozart's popular Eine kleine Nachtmusik as originally composed for chamber ensemble. In this case the ensemble was made up of both Polish members of the Sinfonia Varsovia including the optional double bass, both members of the visiting Orchestra de Paris, and viola and cello from the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra.
We then had an extraordinary and quite entertaining performance by music students who had formed a euphonium and tuba quintet.
Then some small works arranged for clarinet trio
This was followed by my 12 minute translated talk (translated by a most sympathetic and patient young lady). I think it was received well. There was also a talk comparing Japanese orchestras and his experience of them by my colleague Robert Markow.
The day concluded with a panel discussion led by Mari Katayangi, Vice Director of the Centre for Peace at Hiroshima University. There were many interesting remarks which I would wish to remember.
Nadia Médiouni, a violinist from the Orchestra de Paris, is also a member of East-West Divan Orchestra founded by the renowned Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim and the Palestinian author and intellectual Edward Said. Barenboim said:
The Divan was conceived as a project against ignorance. A project against the fact that it is absolutely essential for people to get to know the other, to understand what the other thinks and feels, without necessarily agreeing with it.
Nadia so wisely said: We are all equal in music. We may be all different but with music we are all the same. In an orchestra we are forced to listen to the others and it should be the same in life.
Jyunko Goto, a violinist from the HSO, reminded us of the Peace Concert that occurs annually on August 6th the day of the tragedy. Music purifies the mind.
Another gentleman, a student of the University, made a penetrating remark for me : Art is a gesture of empathy and song sends a message of truth.
Hiroshima University runs various courses to promote peace and to understand the nature of peace negotiations as well as many other associated topics. We must at the very least maintain the belief, have faith in the power of music to civilize even if...
Sunday 24th February 2019
The main event of today was of course the concert. However there was a small pre-concert event that was a beautiful symbolic example of East meets West inherent in the nature of the instruments chosen, the Japanese traditional instrument known as the Koto and the Western cello familiar to us all. Some moving traditional Japanese songs had been arranged for both instruments and the harmony of instrumental timbre and idealistic intention was more than a little moving in terms of the 'Music for Peace' project intention of cross-cultural understanding and co-operation through music.
Martin Stanzeleit (principal cello HSO) and Mitsuhara Hiroki (Koto) before an enraptured audience
Mitsuhara Hiroki (Koto)
Concert Sunday 24th February 2019
Graupner : Sinfonia in F major GWV 566 (Timpani solo: Mathias Müller, Gewandhausorchester, Leipzig) Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No1 in C minor (piano: Makoto Ozone , trumpet :Akiko Kanai) Beethoven: Symphony No.7 in A major op. 92 Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christian Arming, HSO’s principal guest conductor Nadia MÉDIOUNI and Gilles HENRY (1st violin tutti) from Orchestre de Paris, France Kamil Staniczek (2nd violin principal) and Nicholas Franco (double bass principal) from Sinfonia Varsovia, Poland The Christoph Graupner (1683-1760) Sinfonia in F major GWV 566 scored for small baroque orchestra and 6 tuned tympani was the most extraordinary and entertaining work I have heard for a long time. The brilliant tympanist Mathias Müller of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig performed the most extraordinary 'ballet' throughout this astonishing piece of baroque music, dancing athletically from one tympani to another. Such visual entertainment!
This composer is so obscure today scarcely any of the musicians here had ever encountered the name let alone his music. Even producing a playable score from the Graupner autograph was a supreme achievement of musicology. He was one of the major German composers of the Bach and Telemann period and held them as friends. Highly regarded in his day, he was an indefatigable composer although an extremely modest man. We do not have a portrait of him as he refused such an image owing to his strictly held dictates of the Lutheran faith.
|Mathias Müller of the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig with the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra in the Christoph Graupner Sinfonia in F major GWV 566|
He composed a formidable amount of music: over 2,000 works, including 8 Operas, 1,418 fine Sacred Cantatas, 24 Secular Cantatas, 113 Symphonies, 86 Overtures, 44 Concerti for one to four instruments, 66 Trio Sonatas, as well as keyboard music and 41 Partitas for Harpsichord. His superb calligraphy of his autographs and scores caused some to consider them engraved on copper. He was tragically struck with blindness in maturity.
In 1723 his employer, the Landgrave Ernst Ludwig of Hessen-Darmstadt, offered him a pay rise to remain in his employ which caused him to refuse the offer of Kantor at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig (in lieu of Telemann) which led to Bach being offered the position (whom he fulsomely praised in his letter declining the position). This extraordinarily humble man spent the remainder of his life in Darmstadt. Perhaps we should be eternally grateful to him. The Shostakovitch Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor is a marvelous youthful work, full of vitality and musical invention, composed in 1933. The piano solo by Makoto Ozone was brilliant and invested with a jazz feel that suited the work perfectly. Shostakovitch must have surely been aware of the 'Jazz Age' that immediately preceded this composition. Ozone's tone in lyrical passages was a round sweet legato, so refined in quality but when required fully invested with an almost rough nervous internal energy absolutely appropriate to the jagged dynamic rhythmic writing. Youthful exuberance was excitingly in evidence in both composition and performance. Shostakovitch was only 27 when he composed this work.
|Dimitry Shostakovitch as a young man|The conclusion and Ozone's improvised cadenza was a magnificent piece of jazz-invested inspiration with elements of 'stride piano' and swing so suiting the blare of the stunning trumpet obbligato played by the musically gifted young lady Shoko Kanai. That unexpected sight of a young girl playing the trumpet so vividly was quite something to witness and hear. She told me in an interview that she began with the piano and then joined a brass wind ensemble. Apparently more girls than boys are learning the trumpet today! The performance swept us all away and received a tumultuously enthusiastic reception by the capacity audience.
The Beethoven 7th Symphony in A major Op. 92 under the Austrian conductor Christian Arming was a magnificent performance of this so familiar work, one of the best I have ever heard live. The HSO seemed to come suddenly to life in performance, something I had worried about during the rather calm even lack-lustre rehearsals I had attended. Perhaps this low key rehearsal is a feature of 'the Arming method'. Clearly they were keeping their driving energy in reserve particularly in the final movement which was certainly the 'apotheosis of the dance' as Wagner referred to it. He actually wrote in full of the symphony which I can scarcely improve upon:
|Makoto Ozone performing the Shostakovitch Piano Concerto No. 1 in C minor with the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra|
'All tumult, all yearning and storming of the heart, become here the blissful insolence of joy, which carries us away with bacchanalian power through the roomy space of nature, through all the streams and seas of life, shouting in glad self-consciousness as we sound throughout the universe the daring strains of this human sphere-dance. The Symphony is the Apotheosis of the Dance itself: it is Dance in its highest aspect, the loftiest deed of bodily motion, incorporated into an ideal mould of tone.'
I need not have worried that I felt Arming began rather moderately the opening of the definitively long Beethoven Poco sostenuto leading into the main Vivace. It became clear as the work progressed that he clearly had an expressive plan in mind which would culminate in the bucolic and dramatic rhythms of the final movement. The famous second movement Allegretto was suitably brisk in tempo and did not drag. The third movement Presto - Assai meno presto is a scherzo which once more emphasizes the nature of the dance and Armin continued to build this rhythmic preoccupation very successfully until the driving, irresistible energy of the final Allegro con brio which was pure unbridled Beethoven, the composer most loved in Japan. Beethoven felt it to be 'one of my best works' and who are we to dispute the immortal composer?
|Christian Arming passionately conducting the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra in Beethoven's 7th Symphony in A major Op. 92|
|Autograph score of Beethoven's 7th Symphony in A major Op. 92|
The reception after the concert was full of good cheer and joyful celebrations.
What a remarkable three days this has been. For Hiroshima to literally rise like a phoenix from the ashes to become a modern prosperous city is nothing short of a miracle of national spirit. A true inspiration and this music event a small move forward surely in the realization of the dream that is the 'Music for Peace' project. Symbolically set in the tragic city of Hiroshima, I hope this idea will have a positive impact in convincing people even further, despite the unsettling equivocal nature of man, that war is an irrational, destructive and unacceptable way of resolving conflict.
|Mathias Müller (Timpanist Gewandhausorchester) and Makoto Ozone (pianist)|
in lively conversation at the Reception
'Music for Peace' is an important humanist and musical celebration of the valiant national inspiration that rebuilt the great cities of Hiroshima and Warsaw after a catastrophic war. We must never forget these sacrifices especially now as world nuclear tensions increase. Hopefully the 'Music for Peace' project and a mutual love of the music of Fryderyk Chopin will add particularly significant symbolism to the 100th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Japan and Poland to be celebrated in 2020.
* * * * * *
It is with great sadness I read of the recent death of the renowned Japanese literary scholar Donald Keene who died in Tokyo last Sunday at the age of 96. His works and translations introduced me to Japanese literature which I have always loved. The first book I read was of course The Tale of the Genji (possibly the first novel in world literature) then the works of Matsuo Basho, Yukio Mishima, Kobe Abe, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kenzaburo Oe....Japan may not have dominated my life but the artistic culture - traditional music, literature, art, even for a short while Japanese Zen - has certainly remained an important part of it since I was in my twenties.
* * * * * *
Coming Events 2019 - 2020
'Music for Peace'
June 20 2019
Hiroshima Bunka Gakuen HBG Hall, Hiroshima Krzysztof Penderecki Prelude for Peace Krzysztof Penderecki Violin Concerto No.2 “Metamorphosen” Beethoven Symphony No.8 in F major Op.93 Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra conducted by Krzysztof Penderecki Lasse Mauritzen (1st horn ) from DR Symphony Orchestra, Denmark Dorte Bennike (2nd bassoon) from DR Symphony Orchestra, Denmark Ms. Kinga Wojciechowska , Editor in chief of Presto Music Film & Art Magazine (Poland)
August 5 2019
Hiroshima Bunka Gakuen HBG Hall, Hiroshima
Toshio Hosokawa New arrangement for cello and orchestra based on his Lied
Dimitry Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major Op. 107 Gustav Mahler Symphony No. 1 in D major Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christian Arming Edicson Ruiz (contrabass)
Javier Bonet (horn)
August 17 and 18 2019
Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, Warsaw
International Music Festival 'Chopin and his Europe' and 'Music for Peace'
Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia
Concert co-presented by Bunka-cho and Hiroshima Symphony Association in commemoration of the 1ooth anniversary of diplomatic relations between Poland and Japan
August 17 2019
Martha Argerich (piano)
Beethoven Symphony No.9 in D minor Op. 125
Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia
conducted by Kazuyoshi Akiyama
Akie Amou (soprano), Satoshi Nishimura (tenor) from Japan, Monika Ledzion (mezzo-soprano), Rafal Siwek (bass) from Poland
Chorus Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Chorus Stanisław Moniuszko Bajka Andrzej Panufnik: A Procession for Peace Krzysztof Penderecki Tren ofiarom Hiroszimy Dai Fujikura Suite from Solaris ( first performance in Poland )
Frederyk Chopin Piano Concerto F minor Op. 23
Nelson Freire (piano)
Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra Sinfonia Varsovia
conducted by Tatsuya Shimono
My review of this remarkable 'Music for Peace' concert in Warsaw
'Music for Peace' - Hiroshima, Japan - 20 June 2019 - Chopin and His Europe Festival (Chopin i jego Europa Festival) - Warsaw - 14 August - 1 September 2019
March 12 2020
Sumida Triphony Hall , Tokyo Beethoven Triple concerto in C major op.56 Beethoven Symphony No.9 in D minor op.125 Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra conducted by Christian Arming
Martha Argerich ( piano), Soichi Sakuma (violin), Martin Stanzeleit (cello)
Maki Mori(soprano), Mika Kaneko(mezzo soprano), Satoshi Nishimura (tenor), Takaoki Onishi (baritone)
August 5 and 6 2020
Hiroshima Bunka Gakuen HBG Hall , Hiroshima
Dai Fujikura Piano concerto no.4 dedicated to Martha Argerich (world premiere)
Beethoven Symphony no.9 in D minor op.125
Hiroshima International Peace Orchestra (made up from ca.60 musicians from Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra and ca.19 musicians from the orchestras in Poland, Denmark, France and USA)
Conducted by Tatsuya Shimono, General Music Director Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra
Martha Argerich (piano) Peace and Music Ambassador of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra
Nicole Cabell (soprano), Mihoko Fujimura (mezzo soprano), Arnold Rutkowski (tenor) Thomas Bauer ( baritone)
Tokyo Opera Singers and guest chorus members from Hannover
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