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The IPO and Zubin Mehta joined up with Maurice Bejart and the Tokyo Ballet for 3 performances of Beethoven Ninth Symphony at the NHK auditorium.

After the initial confusion on stage, everyone got down to work rehearsing the music and choreography.

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Israel Philharmonic tours more than any other major orchestra. We maintain an international reputation, we serve the diplomatic interests of Israel, and our Music Director has audiences around the world.

But how does it affect family life? When you join the IPO, you know it’s going to be tough on children and spouses; especially for couples in the orchestra. There have been “legendary” couples: Teddy and Talia; Toli and Liza, Shelly and Micha, Saida and Adi, who have each raised 3 and even 4 children while taking on the full orchestra load of touring.

A new couple was added to the group; Genia and Polina Yehudin and for the Far East tour; they are a trio with their 15 month old daughter Marta. Marta is a good traveler, and likes people!  She puts up with all the trains, buses, planes, waiting in lines and hotel life; just like her Mom, who is soloist in the Vivaldi Concerto and her Dad who is principal clarinet.

This week was full of traveling: after leaving Fokuoka, the orchestra traveled by bullet train for concerts in Osaka, Mei, Nagoya and back to Tokyo.

The next project is Beethoven Ninth Symphony with the Tokyo Ballet at the NHK.

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Shabbat evening in Osaka was marked with Kiddush while listening to the IPO concert of Schubert and Mahler recorded on Wednesday and broadcast by the NHK.

Afterwards, we went for neighborhood sushi. We stayed at a particularly good hotel, rated number 1 in Osaka by Trip Advisor.

The conversation at breakfast involved the amenities and gadgets in the room: Italian coffee maker and Japanese tea service, bathtub with television and water-proof remote, shower that included full-body spray, electronic curtains and a toilet with functions controlled by push-button: spray, bidet, pressure (?), oscillate (?), power deodorizer…and I imagine all the combinations.

We were on endless Shinshaibashi shopping street with every brand name and store you can dream of: Prada to simplest udon soup.

Rehearsal and concert in the evening

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On Thursday, the IPO flew from Tokyo to the southern city of Fukuoka; a one hour 40 minute flight.

A rehearsal on Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Vivaldi was planned for 17:00 before the 19:00 concert.  We arrived at 14:00 to hear the good news that the rehearsal was canceled! Still there was barely enough time to nap before the concert… but still, the concert was a great success!

The audience wouldn’t let Mehta leave the stage and we played 2 encores; the “Death of Tybalt” from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Julliet, and “Intermezzo” from Cavalleria Rusticana. The audience was still applauding by the stage door as the orchestra returned to the buses.

For a late evening snack in Fukuoka, you can always go down to the river to sit outside for a ramen soup (chicken noodle) and barbeque plate.

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The Israel Philharmonic finished a week of concerts in Tokyo with programs at Suntory Hall, Ikebukuru and the NHK Concert Hall. Between rehearsals and concerts, players toured Nikko, the ancient capitol of Japan, Kamakura with the largest Buddha in the world, repaired instruments with local craftsmen, practiced in the hotel rooms, or rested for the rougher part of the Japan tour: Fukuoka, Osaka, Nagoya, Mie, and back to Tokyo.

At the NHK concert, Zubin signed the first page of the Tsunami Violin commemoration book along with the IPO players who are performing on the quartet in Japan. The emperor of Japan will sign the closing page. The NHK recorded the concert of Schubert and Mahler for later broadcast.

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“The Israel Philharmonic with its music director Zubin Mehta is Israel’s greatest cultural asset!” a wonderful compliment from the Israeli Ambassador to Japan, Ruth Kahanoff who attended the IPO concert in Suntory Hall.

Sunday afternoon’s concert of Vivaldi, Mozart and Tchaikovsky was simply a triumphant opening for the orchestra’s visit to Japan. Long after the IPO performed “The Death of Tybalt” as an encore, the audience remained in the hall applauding and hoping for another bow by Maestro Mehta…he didn’t disappoint them.

Immediately after the concert members of the orchestra, the impresario’s staff, diplomats, and the Indian Ambassador were guests of the Israeli embassy on the 36th floor of the ANA Intercontinental overlooking Tokyo. The cuisine was Japan/Israel; falafel and humous, next to sushi and sashimi; wine from the Golan and Goldstar beer.

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The Philharmonic returned to Japan for concerts in Tokyo at Suntory Hall, Bunka Kaikan and the NHK, Kukuoka, Osaka, Mie, Nagoya, then back to Tokyo.

Upon returning to Tokyo, the orchestra will join the Tokyo Ballet in 2 performances of Beethoven Ninth Symphony; musicians, soloists, choir and dancers all choreographed on one stage.

IPO is no stranger to Tokyo: nature hikes, shopping, sushi; just great!

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Musicians of the IPO joined in the Tsunami Violin Project, performing on a unique quartet of string instruments in Suntory Hall, Tokyo.

The Tsunami Violin Project was born in the aftermath of the tsunami which left behind vast destruction in March 2011, only months after the orchestra’s last tour to Japan. In addition to the devastation, 10,000 children were left homeless; 2,000 orphaned.

Violin maker Muneyuki Nakazawa built the quartet from wood torn from homes in the Tohoku region by the water. In a nearby forest only one tree was left standing, a symbol of the hope for renewal. When it succumbed to the salt water a year later, its image was preserved on the instruments, and its wood used to make bass bars and sound posts for the quartet.

The organizers are planning 1000 performances on the instruments; a Japanese tradition of 1000 good wishes. Proceeds of fund raising go to allow child victims of natural disasters to recover through music education.

The instruments will be played in Suntory Hall, Tokyo, in all of the orchestra’s appearances in Japan and in broadcasts for the NHK.

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The IPO and Zubin Mehta have been guests in Japan 9 times over the past 30 years.  It has impresario Tadatsugu Sasaki to thank for the wonderful conditions and organization.

The last evening of each visit is reserved for a reception at his home when he hosts a dinner for the entire orchestra.

relaxing at Sasaki's

Maestro Mehta expressed his wish to make the Tenth visit in the near future, and there are rumors that the orchestra will be returning in 4 years to make it a round number!

Zubin thanking our Japanese hosts

 

lucky guy at Sasaki's reception

Sasaki’s home is a combination of museum, office space and practice rooms for his true love, the Tokyo Ballet.  The reception rooms are packed with mementoes, artifacts, figurines and European artwork.

Uzi at Sasaki's

The last concert was a broadcast from the NHK Auditorium as part of a Beethoven Cycle by visiting orchestras.  The IPO performed the 6th and 7th symphonies. See video >>

1,300 km. in one day with a stop for a concert!

The IPO left the hotel in Fukuoka in the south of Japan at 13.00, traveled 3-1/2 hours by “Nozomi” Bullet train to Nagoya, arriving at 16.30; sandwich and apple backstage at the Aichi Province Concert Hall, then a 19.00 concert.

After Stravinsky and Mahler, the orchestra packed up, went by bus to the train station, and caught the 22.00 Nozomi to Tokyo.  A day spent traveling at 280 km/hour!

backstage at Nagoya