NHK Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo


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The 2017/18 Season Overview

The 2017/18 season of the NHK Symphony Orchestra will have Chief conductor Paavo Järvi, along with Charles Dutoit, Music Director Emeritus, Herbert Blomstedt, Honorary Conductor Laureate, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Conductor Laureate and Tadaaki Otaka, Permanent Conductor, all of whom are closely associated with the Orchestra. Distinguished conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach and Marek Janowski, prominent conductors including Peter Oundjian and Tugan Sokhiev, leading Japanese conductors Junichi Hirokami and Tatsuya Shimono, and up-and-coming conductor David Afkham will also take to the podium.


To kick off the new season, Paavo Järvi, who successfully led the Orchestra’s European tour from the end of February to March 2017, will conduct an all-Bartók program as well as two Russian programs which will include Rakhmaninov Piano Concerto No.4 with Russian pianist Denis Kozhukhin, the winner of the 2010 Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels. Then Tatsuya Shimono and Christoph Eschenbach will share the October subscription series. Mr. Shimono will conduct a program of Mozart and Berg, featuring Clara-Jumi Kang, a Korean-German violinist, who will perform Berg’s Violin Concerto, and soprano Mojca Erdmann, who will perform Berg’s Lulu-Suite. Prominent German conductor Christoph Eschenbach will make his debut with the NHK Symphony Orchestra’s subscription series, taking up Mozart Piano Concerto No.12, which he will conduct from the keyboard, as well as Brahms’ Symphonies Nos.1, 2 and 3. In November, Marek Janowski will conduct a program of Hindemith and Beethoven Symphony No.3 Eroica, while Tugan Sokhiev, who will make a guest appearance for the third straight season, will conduct works of Prokofiev in two programs including the composer’s major work Ivan the Terrible oratorio.


The month of December will see Charles Dutoit. Mr. Dutoit will welcome French virtuoso Pierre-Laurent Aimard in a program to mark the 80th year of Ravel’s death. He will also take up Toshio Hosokawa’s Klage, a work whose world premiere performance he gave at the Salzburg Festival back in 2013 with the NHK Symphony Orchestra and soprano Anna Prohaska. The January subscription series features three conductors: Peter Oundjian, David Afkham and Junichi Hirokami. Peter Oundjian, who was the first violin with the Tokyo Quartet, will make his second guest appearance as a conductor with the Orchestra following his debut in the April 2013 subscription series. David Afkham, a young German conductor, will make his first appearance with the Orchestra, conducting a program of Mozart Piano Concerto No.20 with Japan’s foremost pianist Michie Koyama, and a work by R. Strauss, while Mr. Hirokami will perform a program of works by composers representing the Cold War period – the American Bernstein and the Russian Shostakovich. Paavo Järvi returns in February to conduct a program of Mahler Symphony No.7, Takemitsu and Wagner, as well as a program of French works. He will work with two world renowned Japanese violinists, Akiko Suwanai for the Takemitsu works and Daishin Kashimoto for Saint-Saëns in the French program.


In the April subscription series, Herbert Blomstedt will conduct a Beethoven cycle which he started in 2015, along with works by Berwald and Berlioz. Paavo Järvi takes up the baton in May. Along with an all-Stravinsky program, he will take up works by Sibelius and Tormis, composers of Northern Europe, as well Bruckner’s Symphony No.1, having performed Bruckner’s Symphony No. 2 last season. Then Vladimir Ashkenazy and Tadaaki Otaka will appear in the June subscription series. Mr. Ashkenazy will conduct two programs: one includes Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra with Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, a program to mark the centenary of Debussy’s death, the other a program of Mendelssohn’s early work, Concerto for Violin and Piano featuring Sayaka Shoji and Víkingur Ólafsson, and works by Kodály and Janáček. Mr. Otaka will present a Russian program, with Mario Brunello performing Schnittke’s Cello Concerto No.1.


Along with the above-mentioned soloists, many other artists who are at the forefront of the world’s classical music scene will also appear, including pianists Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Maria João Pires and Alexander Toradze, violinists Ryu Goto and Christian Tetzlaff, and vocalists Ai Ichihara and André Schuen.