One thing is for sure: Composer Joe Hisaishi is bursting with confidence about his latest project. Best known for composing music for Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)” (2001), Hisaishi was recently appointed musical director of a new popular music venture by the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra.
Established in 1972 by Seiji Ozawa and musicians supporting the then up-and-coming conductor, the orchestra continues to specialize in classical music, but this July it begins a foray into popular music.
“We will surpass the Boston Pops Orchestra within three years,” Hisaishi said Tuesday at a news conference.
When playing popular music, the orchestra will be called the New Japan Philharmonic World Dream Orchestra and be under the baton of Hisaishi.
The orchestra’s new project should increase its relevancy, Hisaishi said. “Usually, the schedule for an orchestra is set to cover three years, even five years, with the program set in advance.”
For the pops orchestra, however, the schedule will be more flexible and in touch with current musical trends. “My hope is that while respecting classical music, we will be able to send a message that strikes a chord with people today,” Hisaishi said.
Hisaishi has composed scores for more than 40 movies, which, in addition to “Spirited Away,” include Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro” (1988) and “Princess Mononoke” (1999) and Takeshi Kitano’s “Hana-bi” (1997) and “Brother” (2000).
“I don’t want the World Dream Orchestra to be like a dessert whose taste is instantly forgotten as soon as you leave the restaurant,” said Hisaishi, who will arrange, play the piano and conduct as pops musical director for three years under the present contract. “We want to produce music that remains in people’s hearts for a long time.”
“Within three years, we want to become an orchestra whose CDs people will buy, knowing that they will not be disappointed,” he added.
The New Philharmonic World Dream Orchestra will kick off with a tour of Japan beginning July 19 in Sendai, featuring U.S. trumpeter Tim Morrison. The tour continues with concerts in Tochigi, Tokyo, Yokohama, Nirasaki in Yamanashi Prefecture, and Nagoya. The tour’s final performance will be in Osaka Aug. 1.
Hisaishi said the programs will be a combination of three main categories, each featuring movie music: 1) Hayao Miyazaki vs. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas; 2) John Williams vs. Joe Hisaishi; and 3) Russian Classical Cinema Music, including Shostakovich and Prokofiev.
To promote the orchestra’s new project, the orchestra has recorded a new composition by Hisaishi called “World Dreams.” A CD of the same title will be released June 16 and includes the music of well-known movies, such as “Mission Impossible,” “Chinatown,” and the “007” theme song.
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