JAPAN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, one of the top Japanese orchestras based in Tokyo, is uniquely characterized as having a rare combination of artistic excellence and dedication to social responsibility. Since its foundation in 1956 the orchestra has learned to value making music with warm hearts and deep empathy through its history of survival. To spread the power of music to all people, generations and communities, JPO makes over 150 orchestra concerts yearly in Tokyo Metropolitan area and other regions of Japan, educational concerts and workshops, and small-sized performances for local and international communities. JPO is led by Chief Conductor Kahchun WONG, and the artistic team includes Honorary Conductor Laureate Ken-ichiro KOBAYASHI, Conductor Laureate and Artistic Advisor Alexander LAZAREV, and Friend of JPO (Artistic Advisor) Junichi HIROKAMI.
Ⅰ Orchestra Concerts
The orchestra gives about 150 concerts a year, including major subscription concerts at world-renowned Suntory Hall in Tokyo, and Yokohama Minato-Mirai Hall in Yokohama. With a unique and attractive program led by a talented group of conductors, we aim to hone our performance skills and reach a higher level of artistry. While valuing the long history of European classical music, JPO also works on new things; creating new works of music with Japanese composers through the commission program The Japan Phil Series since the very beginning of the orchestra’s history, and more recently collaborating with a media artist Yoichi OCHIAI who aims to build a highly diverse society through art and culture while making full use of the latest technology. The project, which started in 2018, has received attention from various quarters, and was awarded bronze in the music category at Cannes Lions 2019.
Ⅱ Educational Programs
JPO has held a family concert series every summer since 1975, attracting over 20,000 children and their family members each year. The Orchestra has also been successful in other educational programs with Communication Director Michael SPENCER, including the hands-on workshops that nurture children's creativity, communication, and cooperation skills and has gained a lot of attention not only to expose music to school children but also as a training method for company employees.
Ⅲ Regional Activities
Over the years, JPO has focused on contributing to the local communities. In Kyushu region, JPO has had a concert tour every year since 1975 in every prefecture of Kyushu island. The tour plan and programs are created by thorough cooperation of the devoted local volunteer committee members. JPO also has a friendship agreement with Suginami Ward, Tokyo since 1994, and holds "Suginami Kokaido Concert Series" and instrumental classes for local residents over sixty years old.
Music for Tohoku
On 11th March 2011, the gigantic earthquake and tsunami hit Tohoku, north-eastern Japan. JPO musicians have visited the regions to bring music voluntarily since then, performing for the people or teaching ensembles for the school bands. We have kept and developed the Music for Tohoku activities for over 12 years, making 377 visits as of September 2023. These activities received high praise and won the 16th Goto Shinpei Award. The Tohoku Dream Project has developed from it now in Iwate and Fukushima as a dream stage which the orchestra shares with young local folk art performers, to create a place for cultural exchange and communication.
JAPAN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA’s history began in Tokyo in June 1956. Akeo WATANABE, who was at the center of founding the orchestra, served as the first Principal Conductor. With a wide range of repertoire and an innovative performance style, JPO has soon become one of the leading orchestras in Japan. Igor MARKEVITCH, Charles MUNCH, Jean FOURNET and many other world-class conductors were on the podium. WATANABE and JPO recorded the first complete set of Jean SIBELIUS’ symphonies in stereo sound in 1962, and accomplished a successful USA-Canada tour in 1964, making a dramatic breakthrough in just ten years. The Japan Phil Series, which is a commission program that is unprecedented within the history of Japanese music, also started just from the time of the orchestra’s beginning. Many distinctive Japanese composers, including Akira MIYOSHI, Toru TAKEMITSU, and Toshio HOSOKAWA were commissioned to create brand new music. 42 works have been world-premiered so far, and quite a few of them have achieved popularity worthy of being called Japanese classics.
With Russian maestro Alexander Lazarev, who led the orchestra as Chief Conductor for eight years from 2008 through 2016, JPO participated in the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2011, making a significant first step to develop good relationships with Asian countries. JPO’s artistry was dramatically polished up during his tenure; the orchestra received a number of great reviews for its high quality performances of the Russian Soul series. They made the Japanese premiere of Igor STRAVINSKY’s Perséphone at the commemorative 700th Tokyo Subscription Concert in May 2018.
JPO and the Finnish maestro Pietari Inkinen, who served as Chief Conductor for seven years from 2016 until 2023, have widely broadened their repertoire to the spirit of German classics, alongside their both’ speciality SIBELIUS. Particularly the full-length performance of Richard WAGNER's Das Rheingold, which was on the 60th anniversary of JPO’s founding, added a new dimension to the orchestra. In April 2019 JPO toured Europe with him and finally for the first time in the orchestra’s history, made it to Finland, which could be called the second motherland for JPO. Coincidentally the year 2019 celebrated the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Finland, as well as the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Founding Conductor, Akeo WATANABE, whose mother was from Finland. On the tour they also visited Germany, Austria and the UK, held 10 concerts including the prestigious Wiener Musikverein.
September 2023, Maestro Kahchun WONG started his tenure as Chief Conductor. Together we travel the art of Gustav MAHLER, which is his lifelong pursuit. We also explore a new Asian perspective in orchestral music that can only be archived by a team of a conductor from Singapore and an orchestra from Japan, and create a brand new image of an orchestra for a new era and history.
(As of November 2023)
ISHII Keiichiro SASAKI Keishin TAMURA Hiroaki TODOKORO Kunihiro FUKUMOTO Tomomi
KAMIJO Sadao FUKUZAWA Hiroya
AOI Hiroshi ABIKO Tadashi ARAMAKI Koichiro ISHIZUKA Kunio ISHIMURA Hitoshi INAGAKI Takashi UCHIKAWA Sumio OTSUKA Nobuo KAIHORI Shuzo KAJIURA Takuichi KAWAKITA Hirobumi KITA Takayuki KIMURA Keiji KUBOTA Takashi KOBAYASHI Kenichiro SHIMADA Seiichi TSUDA Yoshihisa NISHIZAWA Yutaka NOMA Yoshinobu HADA Junji MURAKAMI Noriko YAMAGUCHI Takayuki
KUMAGAI Naohiko SHIMADA Haruo TANABE Minoru
ONO Toshio KOAMI Tadaaki GOTO Shigeru TAKEDA Takao TANABE Minoru MIZOGUCHI Fumio
<As of November 2023>