1. RLPO Japan Tour 2015 – Tokyo


RLPO Principal Horn Chris Morley. Pete Richards next to him and RLPO Chief Conductor Vasily Petrenko in the background

RLPO Principal Horn Chris Morley, on his catastrophone (Wagner Tuba) getting ready for the Japan Tour rehearsing the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky.

My Japanese 'Beer' T-shirt! There is no written word for beer in Japanese, so these are the symbols for wheat & alcohol. This t-shirt would be accompanying my on the tour

My Japanese ‘Beer’ T-shirt! There is no written word for beer in Japanese, so these are the symbols for wheat & alcohol. This t-shirt would be accompanying my on the tour

Yesterday, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra set off on our latest tour. This time, to Japan. In our 175 year history the RLPO has never been to Japan before. Many of the players have visited with other orchestras but this would be an entirely new adventure for me. Even though my wife is herself Japanese I haven’t been there before.So, for me this tour will be work, pleasure and personal.


Principal Second Oboe Ruth Davies with her husband, RLPO Platform Manager Ian Doran

 The RLPO are giving eight concerts in seven cities. I will be meeting members of my wife’s family I haven’t seen before and we will be staying out in Japan for a further two weeks for our honeymoon, after the orchestra return to the UK.


2nd violin Jim Hutton

The coaches picked us up bright and early to get to Manchester airport where we would catch our flight to Japan, via Amsterdam. On arrival at Tokyo Narita airport (twelve hours later) we caught coaches to our hotel, The ANA Intercontinental Hotel.

RLPO Principal 2nd Trombone Simon Powell

RLPO Principal 2nd Trombone Simon Powel

We have received a very warm welcome here and the people are very courteous, friendly and helpful.unnamed-17 Our instruments have been sent on to the first venue in Saitama for our first performance tomorrow afternoon. The hotel in Tokyo is situated very conveniently next door to Suntory Hall where we will give two performances later in the trip.unnamed-11We arrived this morning and had the day free, which is a nice luxury. Usually, an orchestra tour is pretty much full on will any spare time spent travelling to the next venue. On this trip  we would be travelling back to the hotel after the concerts so seven out of ten nights would be spent in the ANA Intercontinental.unnamed-12After the long flight, many set off to enjoy some tourism. Personally, I felt so tired I went to bed in the hotel for a while. On waking I thought I would pop down to the hotel restaurant on try the magnificent buffet.

The hotel buffet

The hotel buffet

Most of the trumpets and trombones, plus a few others had set off to see a Sumo wrestling tournament in the city. I had woke up a bit late so set off to explore  on my own.


First of all I strolled onto Herbert Von Karajan Place to have a look at Tokyo’s famous Suntory Hall. When the audience are called for performances a metal curtain above the entrance draws aside and two figures are revealed holding trumpets. A fanfare of trumpets then ensues from a whole rack of different trumpets!

Suntory Hall

Suntory Hall

I wandered down some streets for a while to get a feel of the area. The are so many restaurants and bars here. I even past an Anglican Church on my stroll!


I rounded a corner not too far away and the the tall skyscraper the is Tokyo Tower came into view.

Tokyo Tower

Tokyo Tower

I am not at my best with great heights but I had to give this a go!


The views must be amazing…IMG_4453

Here I am at the top…

IMG_4467The weather was blowing a gale and the rain was lashing down but the views were spectacular.IMG_4477

Even at night time.

IMG_4473At a mere 900 Yen to go up to the Main Observatory and a further 700 Yen to go right up to the smaller Special Observatory.


 I spent about an hour or so enjoying the incredible views. It did feel a long way up though, especially when looking through the viewing window.IMG_4469Right at the top I wasn’t sure whether it was me swaying or the building. I went down and braved the inclement weather and thought I’d head back to the hotel. On the way I passed a traditional Japanese-looking building by the Reinanzaka Church and a few embassies.IMG_4483On arriving back at the hotel there were quite a few players enjoying a beer or a glass of wine in the bars and it was interesting to hear about the Kobe beef, fish, meat skewers, sushi restaurants and bars etc many had tried.

Anthony Thompson - RLPO Double Bass

Anthony Williams – RLPO Double Bass

Good ideas for me later in the week.


Lunch at the Sumo tournament for the brass

The brass lads were just arriving back from the Sumo wrestling tournament too. It sounded like spectacular fun. They were keen that I share the photos with you all too, here goes…








The Three Simons, Chapple, Cowan & Powell that comprise the RLPO Trombone Section!




About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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4 Responses to 1. RLPO Japan Tour 2015 – Tokyo

  1. Pingback: RLPO Tour Of Japan – 2015 | Brendan Ball's Blog

  2. Robin Bloxsidge says:

    Interesting as ever Brendan, and lad to hear you’ve all had a chance to look around before the hard work begins. Looking forward to hearing more as the tour progresses!

  3. Pingback: 2. RLPO Japan Tour 2015 – Saitama | Brendan Ball's Blog

  4. Pingback: RLPO Japan Tour 2015 – Read About The Whole Tour! | Brendan Ball's Blog

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