Concert Time - Japan/South Korea Tour, November 15/16, 2013

Nov 18, 2013

Concert Time - Japan/South Korea Tour, November 15/16, 2013

Patrick G. Jordan, viola
November 15
Our first concert venue is the Mitaka City Arts Centre, which is a beautiful hall, seating 576. ‘Cellist Allen Whear pointed out to me the seating is precisely 24 seats in 24 rows, making the calculation pretty straightforward!
The sound in the hall is very rich and warm, a real pleasure for the ear. Given its size and layout, the hall is very friendly to our comings and goings from the stage. There is one minor exception; the stairs off the stage into the hall have treads that are probably more friendly to the local average size 5 or 6 shoe, rather than the 10s and 12s that some of us sport. The production team is working with a somewhat constrained palette since the hall is primarily designed for concerts and not theatre. That said, they have worked their usual magic to make us and the images look great. 
The production team at the hall have also been very welcoming and helpful. As a special treat for Marco Cera, the woman who runs the hall, Mami, speaks Italian!
The actor we’re working with, Seiji Fukushi is great. There is, of course, a very good DVD of the programme available for study (or for Christmas presents…), but in practice, because of the differences in physical performance spaces, we never do exactly the same show twice. Doing it in another language is another challenge, but he is very clear and demonstrative in the hand-offs. Various members of the orchestra at various moments cue him, since he has to be ready to go before the music is finished, as a general rule. 
Anyway, it’s off to the dress rehearsal this noontime, and a concert at 5:00!!
November 16
We played the first of our concerts yesterday afternoon, to a very receptive audience at the Mitaka City Arts Centre. It went really well, with lots of beautiful playing and a great rapport between the orchestra and Seiji Fukushi, the actor. It was also violist Brandon Chui’s inaugural Galileo show, and he was great!
At the end of the concert we were treated to a beer toast back-stage by Masuko Okamura. She’s the Managing Director of Okamura & Co., the firm that is our agent and sometime-presenter on the Japan leg of this tour. Masako-san and her team, her daughter Takio Okamura, the Stage Manager Tatsu Fukamachi and Akiko Matsuura from Tonichi Travel Service have all been extraordinarily helpful and welcoming to the whole group. The amount of planning that has gone into any tour of this magnitude boggles the mind, and everything so far has gone very smoothly. A huge thank you to Masako-san and her team!
The end of the concert held another surprise in the person of Richard Myron. He’s an American contrabassist who taught at the 2013 Tafelmusik Baroque Summer Institute (and who will be returning in 2014). He lives in Paris but happens to be on tour here with Magdalena Kožená at the moment. Since the text delivered for this version is in Japanese, he might not have gotten the full effect, but he was effusive in his praise for us. My favourite part of his reaction was this: “It blew my mind! It was like seeing a Frank Zappa show – an evening of incredibly complex music, being performed from memory!!” I will take a favourable comparison to Frank Zappa ANY day. Keep it coming, Richie!
He joined a small group of us for dinner at a yakitori place very near our hotel. The sign outside says it all!

Open anytime!  Photo by Patrick G. Jordan
We’re off this afternoon to Yokohama for the next concert at Aobadai Philia Hall!

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