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Japan has embraced Western classical music for decades as part of its breathtaking array of art forms and influences. The two-part JapanNYC festival provided an overview of this amazing culture, while also focusing on the country’s exemplary interpreters of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven.
There was no better way to start JapanNYC in December than with its artistic director, Seiji Ozawa, who made an emotional return to Carnegie Hall leading the Saito Kinen Orchestra, which he co-founded in 1984. Japan’s oldest orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, appeared with guest conductor André Previn in Part II of JapanNYC, held in March and April, as did Masaaki Suzuki’s Bach Collegium Japan. Piano prodigy Aimi Kobayashi gave a recital, and violinist Midori performed in recital and as soloist.
Legendary pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi and her husband, tenor saxophone virtuoso Lew Tabackin, were part of the festival, and jazz guitarists Kazumi Watanabe and Daisuke Suzuki paid tribute to Tōru Takemitsu.
Although Western classical music formed the core of JapanNYC, traditional music and culture was far from neglected. Shamisen players Yutaka Oyama and Masahiro Nitta appeared in Zankel Hall; they also performed on a free Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert, as did taiko drummers Soh Daiko.
Noh theater, manga, film, butoh dance, and pop art were all part of partner events at 25 New York City cultural institutions. Carnegie Hall also continued its festival partnership with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, with select JapanNYC artists appearing at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California.
With Part II of JapanNYC starting only days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan, the festival also became an opportunity to reflect on the tragedy, an outlet for information on how to help those affected by the disaster, and a testament of the power of music to heal.
Abrons Art Center at Henry Street Settlement
Absolutely Live Entertainment and New Audiences
Asian Contemporary Art Week
Baryshnikov Arts Center
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts
Institute for Medieval Japanese Studies at Columbia University
The Juilliard School
LaGuardia Performing Arts Center
Lehman Stages at Lehman College in the Bronx
(Le) Poisson Rouge
The New York Public Library
The Noguchi Museum
The Paley Center for Media
Paul Szilard Productions and Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance
Works & Process at the Guggenheim
The World Music Institute
JapanNYC Lead Sponsors are Epson Corporation; Mizuho Securities USA Inc.; Nomura Holding America Inc. and Nomura America Foundation; Kotaro ONO, The Chairman of The ONO Group; ROHM Co., Ltd. and Rohm Music Foundation; Sony Corporation; and Yoko Nagae Ceschina.
Supporting Sponsors are Deloitte LLP; Mitsubishi International Corporation; Suntory Holdings Limited and Suntory Hall; Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited; Toshiba Corporation; and Toyota.
With additional funding from Aladdin Capital Holdings LLC; Asian Cultural Council; The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Ltd.; GWFF USA Inc.; ITOCHU International Inc.; J.C.C. Fund of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York; Kawasaki Good Times Foundation; The NY Mets Foundation; Nihon Unisys, Ltd.; Nippon Express Foundation, Inc.; Nippon Life Insurance Company; Hiroko Onoyama and Ken Sugawara; Seiko Instruments Inc.; Subaru of America, Inc.; and Sumitomo Corporation of America Foundation.
With special thanks to the National Endowment for the Arts; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan; Japan Tourism Agency; Japan National Tourism Organization; the Japan Foundation; and the Consulate-General of Japan in New York.