The RLPO were up bright and early today to make our first ride on the famous Japanese Bullet Train. Very punctual and very swift!
The venue for our fourth day in Japan and our third concert was Biwako Hall for our Shostakovich and Rachmaninov programme.
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra
Chief Conductor : Vasily Petrenko
Shostakovich : Festive Overture
Rachmaninov : Concerto No. 3 (soloist : Nobuyoki Tsujii)
Shostakovich : Symphony No. 10
Here’s a little Wiki knowledge about this ancient city…
Ōtsu (大津市 Ōtsu-shi?) is the capital city of Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Ōtsu is known as the main port of Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. It briefly served as the capital of Japan from 667 to 672 AD during the Asuka period (538 – 710). The city is home to numerous sites of historical importance, notably the temples of Mii-dera, Ishiyama-dera, and Enryaku-ji and the Hiyoshi Taisha shrine. Enryaku-ji is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)”. Ōtsu was incorporated as a city on October 1, 1898.
The Biwako Hall, set in stunning scenery by Lake Biwa is similar in size to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, seating just over 1800 at full capacity.
The backstage area is also enormous. Also the couple of floors of subterranean offices all make me feel a tad envious of these new wonderful facilities in the Far East…
The RLPO coaches arrived at this most striking piece of architecture in time to stretch our legs for half an hour or so before rehearsal.
For players like me, this time is essential to get ‘the chops’, breathing and fingers etc warmed up.
At all the Japanese concert hall, we have been greeted very warmly and with genuine appreciation. We couldn’t be made more welcome. At each venue we have been provided with cakes, biscuits, sweets etc. The environmentally conscious Japanese even request the the orchestra write their names on a paper cup so we can re-use them throughout our visit rather than waste them. Nice one!
The first portion of the rehearsal was dedicated to Nobyuki get used to the piano for his Concerto no. 3 by Rachmaninov. He didn’t seem to have any trouble at all!!!
Otsu is very proud of it’s Arts and this special centre serves the city admirably. Here’s a little snippet off the official web site…
“… Sing, dance and play on the scenic shores of Lake Biwa – Biwako Hall is an arts center fully equipped to provide exciting experiences of top class performing arts. From the land of fresh water, the wings of arts spread free to fly into the future.Opera, ballet, musicals and classical concerts – a kaleidoscope of performing arts is staged in the Main Theatre. Once the curtain rises, the performers and the audience join in a celebration of arts.”
The rehearsal went according to plan so we had from 1.30 pm until the concert at 4pm to grab something to eat or have a look around etc. It was such a nice, sunny day that I went to sit by Like Biwa to see the scenery and have a further study of my BBC learn Japanese quickly book…
Peaceful, beautiful and uncluttered.
The concert was once again greeted by shouts for more and rapturous applause. Blind piano genius Nobuyuki Tsujii is treated as more popular and important than an international rock star in Japan. Quite right too! His perfect playing, delivered with such panache drove the audience wild. Once again, he couldn’t leave the stage without playing two encores. The audience were still demanding more as he took his final curtain call. Likewise for the RLPO. Shostakovich Symphony no. 10 was greeted with shouts of bravo. Of course, we have won many awards with our recording and Petrenko-san has been staying behind afterwards to sign copies for the audience. We too couldn’t leave the stage until we had played two encores again. Even then, the audience were still shouting for more. I would like to mention the playing of Tim Jackson in Shostakovich 10. Our Principal Horn delivered his solos as perfectly as I have ever heard. I should know because I sit right at his business end!
Afterwards, the orchestra were bussed to nearby Osaka as we would be performing another afternoon concert there tomorrow. We arrived in the evening. Jet lag is taking it’s toll on many, including me. After all, in Japan we are nine hours ahead of the UK.
Osaka is famous for it’s Teryaki. In my household, in which the better half is Japanese, Teryaki is grilled fish or meat which is repeatedly dipped in a glaze of soy sauce, mirin and sugar. The fillet is repeatedly dipped in the glaze during cooking, then cut into thin strips before serving.
I took a walk around Osaka in the dark for a while enjoying the canals and many streets teeming with teryaki restaurants. The city looks extremely pretty at night and the smell delicious food is intoxicating.
Sometimes I just love this job!!!
TOMORROW – CONCERT NO.4 – OSAKA