Japan’s oldest orchestra to back youngest soloists

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Japan’s oldest orchestra to back youngest soloists

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It could be a battle between the two prodigies on strings. Japan’s violin idol Sayaka Shoji and Korea’s young award-winning cellist Ko Bong-ihn are on stage together this weekend accompanied by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Instead of a fierce competition, however, the two will be holding a double concerto led by Chung Myung-whun, the Korean maestro who joined Japan’s oldest orchestra in 2001.
The concert is part of the 2005 Asia tour that the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra opened last month at Tokyo’s Opera City. The tour reached Korea on Monday, playing a concert in Busan. The remaining performances this weekend will be held in Seoul and Incheon.
“The concerts were organized in line with a celebration for Korea-Japan Friendship Year,” said Kim Sang-mi with CMI Korea, the promoter. A total of five concerts are planned for Korea, she said.
Ms. Shoji, 22, is one of the most popular violinists of her age group in Japan. She set a record of becoming the youngest and the first Japanese to win the grand prize at the renowned Niccolo Paganini International Violin Competition in Geneva, Italy. At the time, she was only 16 years old.
Her performance partner this weekend will be the 20-year-old Korean cellist who began his career abroad at 12, when he won the Young Tchaikovsky Competition. Since then, he has performed with numerous orchestras ― Korean and foreign ― including the KBS Orchestra, the Russian Symphony Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra.
The two prodigal performers will collaborate with the 166-member orchestra in a Brahms’ piece, “Concerto for Violin, Violoncello and Orchestra Op. 12.” This work is known as an early effort by Johannes Brahms to harmoniously merge the different sounds of the violin and the cello. Previously, each instrument had been used to play solo pieces exclusively.
Meanwhile, Maestro Chung will lead the orchestra in a piece with a dynamic symphonic sound by Dmitry Shostakovich ― the Fifth Symphony in d minor. The work was Shostakovich’s way of defying Stalinist rule in the 1930s, say music scholars. The finale is impressive, as the composer tried to convey a message of optimism in order to help people survive that traumatic era.
“The year 2006 is Shostakovich’s centennial anniversary,” Ms. Kim said. “This concert is a nice way to kick off commemoration events.”


by Lee Min-a

The symphony will play at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts tomorrow night, and Incheon’s Multiculture & Arts Center on Sunday night. Tickets range from 40,000 ($38) to 120,000 won plus value added tax. For reservations, call: (02) 518-7343.
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