Concert of the Sun from the Japanese musical sky

The Land of the Rising Sun and its artists will soon shine on and warm up the music scene in Košice. Another cultural gem to be offered by the European Capital of Culture Košice 2013 is the concert of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra to be held on 26th May in the concert hall of the House of Arts. It will be undoubtedly one of the biggest events of this year in the metropolis of the East.

The prestigious Japanese orchestra is on an exclusive Czech-Slovak tour. After a concert at the Prague Music Spring festival, the ensemble will perform in Košice, conducted by Kazuhiro Koizumi. Renowned musician Sayaka Shoji plays solo violin in Dvořák’s Violin Concerto. She has built a reputation on the international music scene after a triumph – taking First Prize at the prestigious Paganini Competition (1999), which won as the only Japanese and also the youngest female artist in history.

She has performed with the world’s leading conductors (Sir Colin Davis, Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pappano, etc.). She plays with world-class orchestras (Berliner Philharmoniker, Bayerischer Staatsorchester, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, etc.). Shoji will conjure the most beautiful tones playing a 1729 Recamier Stradivarius – a precious musical instrument kindly loaned to her magical hands by Ueno Fine Chemicals Industry Ltd.

tmso without conductor (C) Sayaka Ikemoto

The concert begins with Japanese contemporary music – composer Kosaku Yamada wrote a new composition on this occasion – Overture in D major. After Dvořák’s Violin Concerto, the evening will culminate in the spectacular Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.        

The performance of the world’s elite artists guarantees that the evening will sound with classical music pleasing the ears and souls of even the most demanding admirers and lovers of quality music. Top artists visiting Košice – European Capital of Culture – are sure to deliver a spectacular rendition. The musicians bring with them a piece of the Sun, and thus we all can touch the musical sky.


Sayaka Shoji – violin

Violinist Sayaka Shoji from Japan conquered the international music scene at 16 when she took First Prize at the prestigious Paganini Competition in Genoa (1999), where she triumphed as the only Japanese and also the youngest female artist in history. Gramophone (July 2011) wrote about her: „ Shoji emerges as a formidable musician, able to draw on huge reserves of stamina and the unflinching equal of anything thrown at her. The world is her oyster.“

Sayaka Shoji High Res 5 - credit Julien Mignot

After the triumph, she immediately drew the attention of Zubin Mehta, who invited her a year later to record with him and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra her debut CD for prestigious label Deutsche Grammophon.

The violinist grew up in Italy since childhood, then she studied in Israel and Germany. Shoji plays a 1729 Recamier Stradivarius and performs with major orchestras and conductors of the world.

Now 30 years old, the artist was born into an artistic family. Her mother is a painter, grandmother a poet. Violin fascinated her since childhood while listening to music. She asked her mother to buy her a musical instrument. First, she attended piano lessons, but she did not like it much. For her, it was too complicated and inconvenient. Her instincts gravitated to violin.

She lived in Italy since kindergarten. The small town of Siena has great opportunities relating to music, says Sayaka. During her studies at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, she understood how to become a good musician. She also learnt to sing there, and she enjoys singing with others even today. Germany was for her a country of students where she learnt theory and the language. At the age of fourteen, Shoji went to Israel, where she met with the willingness of Jews who helped her. There, she encountered violinist Shlom Mintz, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, and many people from the world of music.


Kazuhiro Koizumi – conductor

Japanese conductor Kazuhiro Koizumi has travelled as Guest Conductor throughout Europe and the United States. In his long and successful career, Kazuhiro has performed with such ensembles as the Berlin Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Century Orchestra Osaka, or  Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra.

Kazuhiro Koizumi 3 (C) Shinji Takehara

Koizumi was born in Kyoto in 1949. He entered TokyoUniversity of the Arts, he studied conducting with Kazuo Yamada. After being awarded first prize in the second Min-On Concert Association of Japan Conducting Competition in 1970, he went on to become Assistant Conductor at the former Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, and was one of the conductors of the New Japan Philharmonic upon its founding in1972. Later that year, he began studying opera conducting at the Berlin Hochschule with professor Hans Martin Rabenstein.

In 1973, he was awarded First Prize at the 3rd Herbert von Karajan International Conducting Competition. Then he debuted in Berlin as a conductor with the Berlin Philharmonic. Koizumi conducted Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, performing with the legendary Anton Rubinstein and Mstislav Rostropovich. He was Music Director of Canada’s Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and since 1988, he has been invited to conduct regularly by London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Since 2008, Kazuhiro has been a Resident Conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and later he became Principal Conductor. He will become Music Director at Kyushu Symphony Orchestra from April 2013 too.


Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra

Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, also known as Tokio, is one of the representative symphony orchestras in Japan. It was formed in 1965, with Heinz Hofmann as its first Permanent Conductor, as a part of a cultural promotion project of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to mark the Tokyo Olympic Games.

TMSO & Koizumi - June 2011 subscription (C) Rikimaru Hotta

Since then, the orchestra has grown to become one of Japan’s foremost professional orchestras under the music directorship of conductors such as Tadashi Mori, Akeo Watanabe, and Hiroshi Wakasugi. Gary Bertini, who assumed the position of the fourth Music Director in 1998, established a new era with high reputation. His successor James DePreist contributed also in educational and outreach programs with acclaimed achievements.

Presently Eliahu Inbal serves as Principal Conductor, Kazuhiro Koizumi as Resident Conductor, and Jakub Hrůša as Principal Guest Conductor. Gary Bertini is Laureate Conductor and Jean Fournet is Permanent Honorary Conductor.

Overseas concert tours of the orchestra include Europe, Russia, North America and Asia. Lovers of classical music can hear the orchestra in May in Prague and also in the European Capital of Culture – Košice.

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