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TOKYO

Tokyo classical music benefit to boost spirits and awareness

by Chiho Iuchi

Since the March 11 earthquake, it’s been difficult for the classical music scene, with many venues having to cancel or postpone performances. Amid this period of readjustment, world-renowned conductor Zubin Mehta is returning to Japan to conduct a Tohoku-Kanto earthquake charity concert to be held in Ueno, Tokyo, on April 10.

Mehta was in Tokyo leading the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino opera for a Japan tour when the earthquake hit the northeast coast of Honshu. The tour was unable to continue and, according to the organizers, Mehta himself expressed a desire to be of some help to the people in the devastated areas.

He has chosen to do this by participating in a charity concert featuring Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 — a favorite classical piece in Japan that is often played to cap the year — performed in collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. The concert also makes use of a venue at the Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno Park that had become available because of the cancellation of an opera performance for the Spring Festival in Tokyo.

The project has attracted other well-known performers, including top-rated Japanese mezzo soprano Mihoko Fujimura and renowned South Korean bass tenor Attila Jun, who will both travel to Japan from Germany to join leading Japanese tenor Kei Fukui, rising soprano Hisami Namikawa and the Tokyo Opera Singers choir. And, like Mehta, all the participating artists will be giving their time for free.

This is a great opportunity to enjoy the cherry blossoms in Ueno Park, experience the emotional charge of a live orchestra and singing, while contributing to the Tohoku area. The money raised will be used to organize free concerts in Tohoku to help alleviate some of its people’s suffering.

The concert takes place at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno Park at 4 p.m. on April 10. Tickets are ¥8,000-¥20,000 and are available at www.tokyo-harusai.com or Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Ticket Service (03) 5685-0650. For more information, call (03) 3296-0600.