The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra assembled around 9.00am outside the ANA Intercontinental in Tokyo to catch the coaches to the train station. The RLPO would be travelling to our next destination and our penultimate concert, the seventh of eight, in Nagoya, at the Aichi Prefectural Arts Theatre Concert Hall.
Last Monday, a few days ago now, was a day off in Tokyo for the orchestra so some members booked in for a good day out skiing further to the north of the country. The Bullet train makes just about anywhere in Japan and back accessible in a day.
A lovely old Porsche was parked in the ANS Intercontinental car park as we awaited the buses leaving for Nagoya.
The Japanese Shikansen, or bullet trains, really are as impressive as they say. Wonderful, sleek looking design too. We caught the bullet train at 11.30am and arrived at the Nagoya Tokyu Hotel at 1.30pm. I checked into my room and noticed an impressive, although not picturesque, view of the city from my window. The concert venue was less than a ten minute walk from the hotel. I walked over there with one of the agents working for the promoters of the tour.
I rounded the corner to the venue. The Aichi Prefectural Art Theater Concert Hall was a very imposing sight. Both inside and out. Another huge venue with no expense spared on this lavish project.Nobuyuki Tsujii was already on stage practicing Rachmaninov’s third piano concerto and players were beginning to arrive and get warmed up for the rehearsal.I have been informed via social media from his fans, that Nobu likes a good party and a few beers. Well, good for him! When you deliver concertos like he does, I reckon he is entitled to let his hair down afterwards…One impressive trait with all the stages we have performed on in Japan have been the impressive size of the performance areas. There has been no issue of space for the musicians. No section compressed against another…The halls also look great, as well as functioning well. All adding to the experience for both performers and audience alike.Above, John Davy, one of our heavyweight extra players. John is a big lad and normally can be found playing French Horn in Miss Saigon in London’s West End. Vasily Petrenko gave the first portion of the rehearsal over to Nobu to play through the piano concerto before balancing up the symphony in this new venue. That done, he decided that Shostakovich’s Festive Overture needed no further rehearsal and trusted us to simply play that in the concert.As well as musicians and admin people the RLPO take platform managers on tour too. Alan Scollins (pictured above) and his manager Ian Doran make sure all the stands, cases, wardrobes, music, large instruments etc are all set up before the orchestra get to each venue and put away ready for transit at the end.RLPO double bass player Danny Hammerton had a problem with a worn tuning peg cog during the rehearsal. The cog kept slipping and losing the tension in the string. He and his fellow bass player Ashley Frampton are doing their best to sort the problem ready for the upcoming performance.
Nobuyuki is a most studious practicer…The RLPO all awaiting the start of the rehearsal.All the concert halls so far have really impressive organs…
RLPO Principal Contra Bassoon Gareth Twigg is busy setting his gear ready for the rehearsal and concert ahead.Many concert halls have a wall or board where visiting artists place evidence of their visit. I’ve noticed that this is very popular in Japan. We have no such tradition at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.I wonder what the RLPO will leave?The architecture in Japan is very impressive for their arts complexes…The Aichi Prefectural Art Theater Concert Hall, NagoyaThe short walk to the venue from the hotel at night time.Curiously, we found an English style craft beer bar just by the concert hall.A very good choice too!Paul Marsden looks just at home here!
The hall was already beginning to fill up as I arrived to get changed before the concert.The refreshment area backstage for the RLPO.The Aichi Prefectural Art Theater Concert Hall was packed out for the 6.45pm start. The concert: Firebird Suite; Rachmaninov Piano Concerto no. 3; Shostakovich Symphony no.10 was very well received. Nobuyuki Tsujii played two encores and the applause that greeted the end of the concert for the RLPO meant that we played an encore also, the 1st Hungarian Dance by Brahms. On the way down to the backstage artists’ exit I shared the lift with Nobuyuki Tsujii…Just before the concert I checked my phone for messages. There was a message from a Japanese gentleman called Iori Atsumi. The message explained that Iori is a friend of ‘Tomo’, the trumpeter who came in to the RLPO at the last minute to play The Rite of Spring in Tokyo Suntory Hall. He went on to further explain that he is both a conductor and trumpeter from Nagoya. He had bought a ticket right behind the trumpets in front of the organ. As I walked to my place on the stage Atsumi-san made his presence known and the concert took place. Iori was waiting at the end, by the artists entrance. We shook hands with him and invited him to go for a drink with him. He replied that he wanted to wait for Vasily Petrenko to get his score to Shostakovich Symphony no. 10 signed. I thought he may be waiting a long time so I took him up there to Vasily’s dressing room, knocked on the door , Vasily invited him inside and I waited for Iori downstairs.When Irori emerged I took him to the nearby German Bar to have a post concert beer with the rest of the brass section. It turns out that Irori had studied conducting in St Petersburg with Professor Marinov, with whom Vasily has studied also. He also studied trumpet in Philadelphia with Roger Blackburn. Isn’t it strange who you meet sometimes…TOMORROW – FUKUOKA – THE LAST CONCERT ON THE JAPAN TOUR 2015