RLPO Principal Horn Chris Morley, on his catastrophone (Wagner Tuba) getting ready for the Japan Tour rehearsing the Rite of Spring by Stravinsky.
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.
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.
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.
We have received a very warm welcome here and the people are very courteous, friendly and helpful. 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.We 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.After 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.
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!
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.
I am not at my best with great heights but I had to give this a go!
Here I am at the top…
Even at night time.
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.Right 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.On 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.
Good ideas for me later in the week.
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…