Japan telework orchestra strikes a chord in coronavirus gloom

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, June 24, 2024

Japan telework orchestra strikes a chord in coronavirus gloom
This photo taken on March 23, 2020 shows Japanese tuba player Kazuhiko Sato, 44, of the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra playing music while recording himself in his sound-proof room at home in Tokyo. The members of the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra prepare for their latest recital, more than 60 musicians ranging from trombonists to violinists and saxophonists -- but this is no ordinary performance in a world changed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP.

by Harumi Ozawa

TOKYO (AFP).- The members of the New Japan Philharmonic orchestra tune up for their latest recital, more than 60 musicians ranging from trombonists to violinists and percussionists -- but this is no ordinary performance.

In a musical twist on the telework trend forced on the world by the coronavirus pandemic, they appear in tiny blocks on screen, recording their parts separately before technology brings them together in joyous harmony.

The on-screen mosaic shows some musicians performing in their tiny apartments, others playing their instruments outside under a bright blue sky.

In scenes familiar to millions working from home globally, one veteran violinist has two toddlers -- apparently his grandchildren -- larking about in the corner.

And a trombone player has a pet bird perched next to him as the orchestra belts out not Beethoven or Mozart but "Paprika" -- probably Japan's most popular children's song.

Tuba player Kazuhiko Sato said he was incredulous when the idea of the teleworking orchestra was first floated.

"I didn't think this would work. I felt as if I was being tricked into something," said Sato, 44.

But with all orchestra members stuck at home and concerts cancelled or postponed, this was the only way to make their music heard.

Sato confined himself in a soundproof room and filmed on a smartphone his tuba part -- mostly a rhythmical low-pitched "da-da-da".

Second violinist Sohei Birmann, 35, was more bullish about the teleworking trial initially.

"We have played together for years and years to create music, so I thought we could do it with no problem," Birmann told AFP with a smile.

"The result of it was totally out of rhythm."

"Usually when we play in the orchestra, we harmonise ourselves using the breath or eye movements of other members," he said.

They had to do several takes of their respective videos, he said, fine-tuning the rhythm and pitch.

'Most unbearable thing'
The mastermind of the teleworking orchestra is trombonist Hisato Yamaguchi, 45.

"An orchestra like ours creates music together within a group of 80 musicians. Having to stay alone and not be able to come together to play is the most unbearable thing," he said.

With coronavirus cases spiking in Tokyo in recent days, Governor Yuriko Koike has pleaded with residents to work from home and avoid all unnecessary trips.

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the entertainment industry with venues from downtown jazz bars to large concert halls shuttered.

It has caused Sato to appreciate what the orchestra once had.

"I never thought twice about playing for an audience at a concert hall and hearing fellow members playing," he said.

"I now know what a wonderful moment it was."

'We don't need words'
Birmann said they have learned an important lesson from the teleworking.

"I think it's been a good opportunity to think about how we can reach out to an audience, rather than simply waiting for them to come to our concerts," he said.

As the killer virus upends lives and economies around the world, other prestigious orchestras have also gone virtual.

For example, the French National Orchestra has played Ravel's "Bolero" from home in a similar fashion.

The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra tried the same trick with Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra played Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring."

As the coronavirus spreads in Japan, there are growing fears that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will soon declare a state of emergency, paving the way for greater restrictions on movement.

Trombonist Yamaguchi said although he often feels music is helpless during a crisis like this, he will stick to doing what he loves.

"Last time I felt this way was the (2011 tsunami) disaster... people say 'this is no time for music'," he said.

"We can communicate with anybody in the world through music. We don't need words. Music gives us great encouragement.

"There will be a time soon when people will need us again."

The performance can be seen here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=kT9aO3qLisw

© Agence France-Presse

Today's News

April 4, 2020

What New York looked like during the 1918 flu pandemic

Gropius Bau announces the digital launch of an exhibition by Lee Mingwei

Lacoste/Keane Gallery opens an exhibition of ceramics by Jeff Shapiro

Bill Withers, soul legend who sang 'Lean on Me' and 'Lovely Day,' dies at 81

Phoenix Art Museum appoints new Sybil Harrington Director and CEO

How Coronavirus is changing the art & collectables auction market

Online-only sale features paintings of women across Southeast Asian cultures

Controversial Soviet-era statue removed in Prague

French orchestra plays on through virus confinement

Elite pulp artists celebrated in Heritage illustration art auction

Steidl publishes 'Hans Danuser: Darkrooms of Photography'

Tate launches new video tours of major exhibitions

Zimmerli Art Museum offers new tools for visitors with sensory-related disorders

Jazz festival in Montreal cancelled due to pandemic

Harriet Glickman, who pushed 'Peanuts' to add an African American character, dies at 93

Quality collections will be featured in Jeffrey S. Evans & Associates auction

Program goes virtual with online drawing tutorials from Australian artists

Phillips embarks on 5th anniversary in Asia with 'Made in Hong Kong' campaign

The Met launches new online programming and social media initiatives

Japan telework orchestra strikes a chord in coronavirus gloom

Ken Shimura, comedian whose sketches delighted Japan, dies at 70

Never given a close look to Hitchcock? Start here

Technology issues, social distancing can't stop a fun auction

Four fast Fords add to the fun & interest of H&H Classics online-only auction

How and Why Hollywood increase Human Growth Hormone levels?


Online gaming booms as virus lockdowns keep millions at home

Some Important Tips About Small Business VoIP Phone Service Providers 2020

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful