Renowned New Juilliard Ensemble set to make Japan debut


Suntory Hall will next month welcome students from New York’s renowned Juilliard School of Music as part of the hall’s Rainbow 21 educational program. Held annually since 2004, the program aims to provide Japanese students with a chance to experience the whole process of concert-making, from planning, producing and promoting to performing.

This year’s guests, the New Juilliard Ensemble (NJE) student chamber orchestra, founded in 1993, appear under the auspices of Rainbow 21 International, an initiative launched in 2008 to invite students from overseas music colleges to support their Japan debut concert, as well as to take part in workshops and other activities with Japanese students.

Led by founding director Joel Sachs, a conductor, pianist, music historian and teacher at the school, the 15 to 20-member NJE specifically focuses on New Music, which Sachs defines as very recent works, especially ones created in the previous decade. According to him, it is important to perform such works in public to encourage and raise the standards of contemporary composers so that another Beethoven might emerge.

The NJE’s upcoming Tokyo concert will introduce the latest trends in American New Music through six pieces, all of them being Japan premiered, and one — specially composed for this tour — being world premiered. The program will include the colorful sounds of wind instruments and powerful percussion of Tania Leon’s “Indigena” (1991); Karen Tanaka’s “Frozen Horizon” (1998) with mystic sounds of strings, flute and percussion; and Roberto Sierra’ “Turner” (2002) with impressive piano parts.

Meanwhile, Japanese student members of Rainbow 21 will organize and perform three concerts: Historical Concerts of Mendelssohn by Musashino Academia Musicae; The Stream of Pianist- Composers by Tokyo College of Music; and Sleepers by Toho Gakuen School of Music.

Rainbow 21 Debut Concert 2009 at Suntory Hall takes place on June 2, 4 and 12 (at 7 p.m.) with Japanese students; and on June 7 (at 2 p.m.) with the New Juilliard Ensemble at Suntory Hall Blue Rose (small hall) in Akasaka, Tokyo. Tickets, at ¥2,000-¥3,000, are available through Suntory Hall Ticket Center ([03] 3584-9999). For more details, visit www.suntory.co.jp/suntoryhall/sponsor/index.html