In the nick of time and with extensive COVID-19 precautions in place, the Vienna Philharmonic (VPO) and Suntory Hall continued their annual tradition of holding a concert tour in Japan, which the hall has organized since 1999.

During a year in which most international performances have been canceled or postponed due to travel restrictions and concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic, the VPO’s Japan tour took a considerable amount of effort to achieve.

The orchestra and Suntory Hall’s firm intention to hold the tour received diplomatic support from Austria and Japan, including a letter from Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. The government granted the orchestra a special entry permit and allowed them to forgo a 14-day quarantine, after considering the “importance of cultural exchange.” Yet, it was not until Oct. 30, one week before the first scheduled concert in Fukuoka, that the hall was able to officially confirm that the tour would take place in early November.