250TH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF MOZART

Tokyo music festival to celebrate Mozart

by Michiru Yoshino

Whether you are a classical music beginner, a hardcore addict or just a trend-follower, head’s up! La Folle Journee au Japon Music Festival is coming to Tokyo during the Golden Week holidays and will be held from Saturday, April 29 to May 6.

The festival will be held in and around Yurakucho’s Tokyo International Forum. This year’s festival features Mozart, in commemoration of the composer’s 250th birth anniversary.

La Folle Journee Music Festival is an unconventional, innovative music festival with its origins in Nantes, France, in 1995. Held for the first time in Japan in 2005, La Folle Journee, which translates as “Days of Enthusiasm,” has completely changed the image of a “classical concert” in terms of style, scale and price.

The festival’s Japan debut featured Beethoven in 2005, with nearly 320,000 people attending over three days. Concertgoers also appreciated the price of tickets, kept down to a surprisingly low average price of 1,500 yen.

Consequently, the event drew an exceptionally large number of visitors, unprecedented for any classical music event to date.

This year, high-class yet casual musical performances numbering over 200 will feature over 1,500 artists from around the world.

The overwhelming popularity of the event has already boosted advance ticket sales to nearly 120,000, a number that reflects the classic music boom here that is becoming something of a social phenomenon.

With “Mozart and His Friends” as the sub-theme of the event, the most famous concertos, symphonies, chamber music and instrumental pieces of Mozart will be performed during this year’s event together with other pieces from his contemporaries. Each stage will last for about 45 minutes, and all venues will host mostly Mozart works from morning to late at night.

Why Mozart? One inar guable fact is the universal appeal and long-lived popularity of his music. The overflowing song and melody of Mozart music has won repeated acclaim from critics.

Whether it be a composition for solo instruments, strings, concerto, symphony or opera, the music of this great composer presents notes in perfect form. Most people agree that no greater expression could possibly exist.

As would be expected, Mozart music, sometimes in jazz or rock arrangements, is used in countless movie scores and television commercials. Moreover, recent studies suggest Mozart music helps improve the brain functions of children, calm the distressed, make cows produce more milk, and even induce fruit and vegetables to grow better.

But such facts and theories aside, the festival is meant to appeal to everyone, and hopes to, according to Mr. Rene Martin, artistic director of La Folle Journee au Japon, “break out of the conventional shell of classical music and delight all who attend.” He sees it as “a musical festival which anyone can deeply enjoy.”

Martin notes that his vision for the event “includes a plentiful musical program, realized through the power of encounters and sharing between top-caliber musicians and members of the audience.”

The ultimate goal Martin seeks through La Folle Journee au Japon is to “offer rich appeal for elementary, middle and high-school students, as well as anyone aspiring towards future associations with classical music.”

It is a “celebration of the classical genre, open to all who come.”