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Fukui, one and a half hours by train from Osaka, is known for its “sakki”, distilled rice wine. In fact the concert hall stands amid fields of rice irrigated with streams from the nearby mountains.

On Sunday, it was also known for its visit by Zubin Mehta and the Israel Philharmonic. The concert hall resounded with Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony and Stravinsky’s Petrushka; and what a concert hall!

Concert Hall in Fukui

It’s one of the finest halls that the orchestra has seen for years.  The stage is completely hydraulic and the wonderful acoustics were designed by Yoshiya Toyota, who is working on the Mann Auditorium renovation!

More pictures from Fukui >>

Spirits fall on Far East tour…

The mood of the IPO Far East tour changed from “elation” to “frustration” when orchestra members discovered that internet would cost them 1650 Yen ($20) a day in Osaka.  Immediately, searches were organized to find alternate sources around the hotel; Starbuck’s, the train station, McDonald’s, internet cafes, but all failed!

Instead orchestra people visited Kyoto, the Sakemoto forest or walked around Osaka.

yoel with ladies in Kyoto

 

How do you stretch a 2 hour flight from Shanghai to Osaka into a 10 hour saga?

05:30 wake up; breakfast at dawn in Shanghai

06:30 departure for airport

07:15 check-in begins (Zubin holds up the line)

08:45 change of gate entire orchestra re-locates

09:30 take off (noodles and duck followed by soy dumpling dessert????)

11:45 landing in rainy Osaka after loosing our stomachs in some air pockets

12:00-14:00 Japanese immigration fingerprints and photographs the orchestra

14:15 load buses and start drive to Osaka Hilton

16:00 arrive Hilton in downtown Osaka

At least Japan feels like home-coming after China and we have the entire evening ahead of us! That means “Sushi Mistovev!”

Sushi in Japan - sushi mistovev :)

eating sushieating Sushi in Japan

We arrived at the hotel at midnight, beginning a two day visit of morning rehearsals and evening concerts.

Zubin first in line for China

The IPO performed the final concerts of the Shanghai International Arts Festival, part of Expo 2010.

Shanghai International Arts Festival

The adventurous in the orchestra shopped in the afternoon and came back to the concerts with stories of successful bargaining for shirts, dresses, watches and even musical instruments. It’s hard to beat orchestra members at the shouk when Middle-East meets Far-East.

The second concert featured a televised “showcase” ceremony (in Chinese, of course) starring an entourage from the city’s ministry of culture.  As soon as the speeches ended and the Chinese National Anthem was sung the media raced out and Zubin started the concert.

The hotel had free internet in the lobby and after the concert, the IPO opened its own internet café.  It was a pretty comic scene as 40 laptops appeared and musicians busied themselves with calling home by computer, or sending emails.

free internet in the lobby

We arrived in Bangkok on a hot Friday afternoon.  “Hot” in Bangkok means 34 degrees and 90% humidity.

Orchestra members took advantage of Shabbat to visit the Royal Palace grounds take a boat on the river (nice and cool) or shop.

Young IPO members barefoot at the royal palace

You could get around town on the Sky Train, in a cab, or if you didn’t mind the heat, a “tuk…tuk”, an open 3 wheel cab.

Sunday’s concert was the premiere event of the Bangkok Festival of the Arts, sponsored by the Royal Family.  Zubin and the orchestra opened the tour with Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” and Mahler’s First Symphony.

Backstage was a novel addition; a prayer room featuring all of your favorite gods; I’m sure the deities of intonation, ensemble and artistic inspiration were represented because it was an excellent concert!  The audience response was warm like the weather.

 Gods of Good performances Bangkok backstage

The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra embarks on its 2010 Tour of Asia on October 24, and continues through November 14. Chief Conductor Zubin Mehta leads the orchestra in 14 performances in four countries—Thailand, China, Japan and Korea.

Tour Schedule >>

Check back soon for more updates! In the meantime, follow the Orchestra’s journey across the world on Facebook.