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It’s “Beethoven season.” The run-up to the new year has long been marked in Japan with performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 — known here simply as “daiku” — gloriously performed by large orchestras featuring around 80 instrumentalists and some 100 choir members or more.

In October, however, conductor Seiji Ozawa celebrated the 100th regular concert of the Mito Chamber Orchestra by performing the piece with much fewer instrumentalists — the MCO numbers 48, including the 26 core members.

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