New Japan Philharmonic

Artist Profile

"Let's play music together!" – The New Japan Philharmonic (NJP) was established in 1972 under the leadership of conductor Seiji Ozawa as an independent orchestra managed by its own members. The orchestra has since followed its own unique path, placing significant emphasis on vocal, theatrical and contemporary works, and earning a reputation for satisfying performances and quality projects, such as the Seiji Ozawa Opera Series and the Chamber Orchestra Series (the Casals Hall) which included the performance of Haydn's complete symphonies. With Seiji Ozawa, the orchestra undertook a successful European tour in 1985.

In 1997, the NJP became the first Japanese orchestra with a permanent home venue, holding regular rehearsals and concerts in the Sumida Triphony Hall, which opened that same year in Sumida city, a historical and traditional district in Tokyo, also known as the birthplace of Katsushika Hokusai (a renowned artist of the Edo period) and location of the national sumo stadium, Kokugikan. The orchestra continued to receive critical acclaim in subsequent years for notable programs such as the Shostakovich Festival 1998 led by Mstislav Rostropovich and the Mahler Zyklus 1999/2000 conducted by Michiyoshi Inoue. In addition to the subscription concerts and special concerts in the Sumida Triphony Hall and the Suntory Hall, the orchestra is also actively engaged in community outreach efforts, such as giving Community Concerts in local school gymnasiums, and visiting elementary or junior high school music classes and other institutions for Mini Concerts.

In 1998, NJP led by Seiji Ozawa and Mstislav Rostropovich toured Russia playing Britten's War Requiem, contributing to strengthen the ties of friendship between Japan and Russia.

In 1997, Seiji Ozawa was named honorary conductor laureate.

In 2002, NJP and Seiji Ozawa played an extremely well-received concert in China commemorating 30 years of friendly Chinese-Japanese relations.

Christian Arming, born in 1971, assumed the post of music director in 2003. The unprecedented promotion of the young conductor garnered much attention in the music world.

In 2004, NJP toured Spain, winning high critical acclaim in the local music scene. The summer of the same year saw the launch of the New Japan Philharmonic World Dream Orchestra, a new project led by musician Joe Hisaishi which aims to appeal to a more diverse audience with programs that extend beyond genre. The NJP's close relationship with Joe Hisaishi led to later recordings of soundtracks from the movies Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea. The Chamber Music Series, which began in the same year at the initiative of and featuring NJP members, has also been very popular and appreciated as the first dedicated chamber music subscription concerts offered by a Tokyo based orchestra.

With Christian Arming, the orchestra has been performing concert operas with stage direction every season, including the Japanese premiere of Beethoven’s Leonore (2005), and Honegger's dramatic oratorio Jeanne d'Arc au bûcher (2006) which received fantastic press reviews, winning the Mitsubishi Trust Prize for Musical Art (Good Performance Award).

Concert-opera performances in the subsequent seasons –– Wagner's "Lohengrin" and Johann Strauss' "Die Fledermaus" in 2007, Richard Strauss’ "Der Rosenkavalier" in 2008 and Debussy's "Pelléas et Mélisande" in 2010, Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" in 2011 –– have all earned the highest acclaim.

In 2009, NJP brought Franz Schmidt's oratorio "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln" under Christain Arming which won the Mitsubishi Trust Prize. This marked the first time this prize, which is given for the best performance, was awarded to an orchestra.

In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the death of Joseph Haydn, Frans Brüggen produced the "Haydn Project" in February 2009, offering the 12 symphonies of the "London Set," whose high quality performance drew praise from all quarters to win the 22nd Music Pen Club Awards. His "Beethoven Project” of February 2011 also earned him great accolades.

Starting with the 2010-2011season, Daniel Harding has joined NJP conductors as a Music Partner of NJP. His charity concert, performed for victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake, which Harding himself had experienced in Tokyo, was featured in various newspapers in June 2011. The concert was enthusiastically received. Further, the concert held on the day of the earthquake, called "The March 11 Mahler," was made into a documentary film (broadcast by NHK Television on March 10, 2012), drawing highly positive response from viewers.

In August 2011, NJP gave a performance entitled "Summer in Dalian,” upon the invitation of Dalian City, China. The Chinese audience reacted very well to the event.

As of the 2013-2014 season, Ingo Metzmacher has been appointed Conductor in Residence. He will be conducting for four programs and six concerts during this season.

Selecting the program around a seasonal theme (e.g. "Love", "Seduction", "Secret"), actively introducing contemporary music, commissioning new works, and incorporating radical new ideas not yet familiar in Japanese orchestras, the New Japan Philharmonic, with its admirable projects and performances, is hailed by the media as "one of the new big three orchestras of Japan". #531 Subscription Concerts(October.2014) are selected "Affinis Emblem", given to the concert recognized the planning and there is meaningful to the music in Japan or in the Region.

In September 2016, Toshiyuki Kamioka will become Music Director. Major recordings include: Brahms' Symphony No.1 coupled with Mahler's Symphony No.3; Mahler's Symphony No.5; Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde"; Beethoven's Symphony No.9, and "The Best / Wagner", Franz Schmidt's "Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln", "Verdi/ Requiem", "Argerich/ Schumann & Chopin, Piano Concertos", "Bruckner's Symphony No.5". Mahler's Symphony No.5, in particular, was broadcast via radio in Germany and described as, "clearly distinct from the Japanese orchestras we have known, a first-class performance even in comparison to European orchestras”.

This is the New Japan Philharmonic – an orchestra constantly in search of new musicality.

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