Pianist Onishi to come out of retirement

by Shaun Mckenna

Staff Writer

Pianist Junko Onishi will come out of retirement to perform one more time, at the finale of this year’s Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto in Nagano Prefecture.

According to a statement released Friday, the 46-year-old musician was convinced to come back to the stage by overtures from festival director Seiji Ozawa and author Haruki Murakami. Onishi will perform “Rhapsody in Blue” with her trio on Sept. 6, accompanied by the Saito Kinen Orchestra and conducted by Ozawa himself, who will be returning to the festival after a two-year absence due to health problems. Onishi will also conduct jazz workshops.

Both Ozawa and Murakami detail the strategy to bring Onishi out of retirement on the festival’s website with Murakami noting that, “The entire sequence of events could just have easily been something I dreamt.”

This year marks the 22nd edition of the festival. The Saito Kinen Orchestra was created in 1984 in memory of Hideo Saito (1902-74), Ozawa’s music teacher and cofounder of Toho Gakuen School of Music.