Sunday, August 17, 2014

More than a few concerts...

~ So here is a post from 2012 that I never published but thought it might still be interesting. ~

One thing that is certain in Tokyo - if you want to go to a concert any day, practically any time, you can. The rich assortment of musical styles, ensembles, and performance venues is quite extraordinary. I thought I'd kick off this category with a little summary of events I have enjoyed over the last few months.

Lets start with a quick summary -
September 13 - Gagaku Performance outside at Tokyo's Hie Jingu shrine
October 9 - Ko Ishikawa, sho, performs on a concert of music by Makiko Nishikaze, Koen Dori Classics
October 21 - NHK Symphony at NHK Hall, Tarangalila Symphony by Olivier Messiaen
November 1 - Orchestra Project 2011, Tokyo Opera City, Premieres of several compositions by Japanese Composers including Shigenobu Nakamura
November 6 - Concert of music by Jo Kondo, Koen Dori Classics
November 13 - Ensemble NOMAD new music concert, Tokyo Opera City.
November 25 - New Media works by students of Shintaro Imai
November 27 - Viol da gamba concert by Yukimi Kambe Viol Concert
December 3 - Tokyo Sinfonietta, Multiple works by Toshi Ichiyanagi including the world premiere of Symphony #8 plus Zeitmasse by Karlheinz Stockhausen
December 4 - Bach Collegium Japan performs the Christmas Oratorio, Tokyo Opera City
December 5 - Keiko Nosaka 25 string Koto concert at Tsuda Hall featuring the premiere of a new work by Mexican composer Arturo Salinas

- and to look forward to -
December 9 - KODO Taiko Drum Ensemble, Aoyama Hall
December 24 - Bach Collegium Japan performs Handel's Messiah, Suntory Hall
January 17 - Works by Salvatore Sciarrino at Tokyo Opera City
January 26 - Reigakusha Gagaku Ensemble at Yotsuya Kumin Hall, Shibuya
and more and more and...

I mean, I go to a few concerts a year but this has been amazing.

Before I arrived here I wondered how concerts were promoted in such a huge city and how one found out about events of interest. Now I know - at every concert there are two people outside the door to the hall handing out plastic bags full of promotion flyers. These might contain 30 - 50 announcements about upcoming events and they are keyed to the event style of the evening: New Music to New Music; Early Music to Early Music; World Music to World Music. And then you get another 15 to 25 flyers in your program for the concert you are attending. These are usually upcoming events at the same hall or events by friends of the performers. In a city this size it would be impossible to promote events in a general way but this focused marketing is really quite interesting and effective.

So just a few comments about the venues - Tokyo has some of the most amazing halls I've ever been in!

NHK Hall -
A grand old hall and home of the NHK Orchestra. Great sounding but probably one of the least interesting spaces. Very much a 1950s space. seats 3600+
Tokyo Opera City -
An extraordinary space. Look at the web site. The large hall is inspiring and the facility also houses a recital hall, the New National Theater, an Art Gallery, and a Media Center.
Bunka Kaikan -
Two of the most amazing halls in the city. The Recital Hall is visually and aurally stunning. ONe of the best I've ever been in. Again, look at the web site.

On the other side of the coin, every major neighborhood (Shibuya, Shinjuku, etc) and many not so major ones have small halls or spaces that are used constantly by performers and composers putting on their own events. These include Oji Hall, Tsuda Hall, and one of the more inetersting spaces:
Koen Dori Classics - I have been to several concerts here and although it may not look like an important space it is used consistently by some of Tokyo's best performers (classical, jazz, improv, etc) playing major works by some of Japan's best composers. As a space it seats about 50 people and is located in the basement parking garage of a church in Shibuya. The church is, of course, surrounded by fashion shops, restaurants, the Apple store, etc. A typical Tokyo mixed use neighborhood. Shibuya is a wild scene of youth culture and constantly full of people night and day, shopping, hanging out, being seen, etc.