Ozawa conducts choir of elementary schoolers

Kyodo

Conductor Seiji Ozawa performed Wednesday in public for the first time since ill health forced him to suspend his musical activities last March, conducting a choir of 340 elementary school pupils in Kawasaki.

The 77-year-old maestro conducted the singing of a song titled “Hiroi Sekai e” (“Toward a Wide World”) by fifth- and sixth-graders at Minami-Ikuta Elementary School. The song will be sung at a graduation ceremony for the sixth-graders next month.

Ozawa directed the choir for four minutes, telling the pupils to think about the meaning of the lyrics and to put their emotions into the music as they sang.

During a special music class in the school gym, Ozawa also gave a talk about his musical encounters and the difficulties he had learning foreign languages.

A relative of Ozawa attends the school, and the conductor agreed to the school’s request to direct the choir and give a talk.

Ozawa earlier expressed his intention to make a modest comeback on the music scene by giving directions to an orchestra during its practice sessions prior to the orchestra’s public performances slated for March.

He plans to make a full-fledged comeback in August at the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, conducting French composer Maurice Ravel’s opera “The Child and the Spells.”

Ozawa suspended all public activities last March to concentrate on regaining his strength. He underwent surgery for esophagus cancer in 2010, after which he was diagnosed with pneumonia three times.