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Aussie orchestra hits slopes

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The Australian love affair with the Hokkaido ski resort of Niseko heats up a little this season, as one of the nation’s premier orchestras, the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), visits to hold a series of concerts from Jan. 15-17.

For several years the orchestra’s artistic director, Richard Tognetti, has been one of an increasing number of Australians who make the annual northerly pilgrimage to Niseko to enjoy the resort’s abundant powder snow.

On the ACO’s Web site, Tognetti explains that a classical music concert seemed like a perfect match for a ski resort.

“I couldn’t think of anything better than to ski all day, attend a concert in the evening, have a great meal . . . and finish with a great Hokkaido onsen,” he said.

The ACO plans to make the series of concerts into an annual event, under the banner of the “Niseko Winter Music Festival.” This year, the eight-member touring orchestra will perform with Japanese harpist Naoko Yoshino and taiko (drum) performers, the Youtei Daiko Serve Association. Both collaborators hail from Hokkaido.

Highlights from the three days of concerts will include Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4, music by tango master Astor Piazzolla and a traditional taiko performance.

Performances will begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at Kutchan Concert Hall, Kutchan, on Jan. 15 and 16, and at Hanazono 308, Kutchan, on Jan. 17. For more information, call (03) 5467-0081 or visit www.aspen.jp