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100th Anniversary of Karajan' s Birth & the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra

On December 20th (Saturday) at Okuma Auditorium, the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra will hold a Concert to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Karajan' s Birth. The concert will feature the first visit to Japan by Gabriel Schwabe, the young cellist from Berlin. At the same time, during the period from December 18th (Thursday), 2008 to January 23rd (Friday), 2009, an exhibition with the theme "Karajan & the Waseda Symphony Orchestra" will be held at the Waseda Gallery (Waseda Campus, Bldg. No. 27, 1st Floor). This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Herbert von Karajan, and a variety of commemorative events are being held throughout the world. The Waseda Symphony Orchestra, which possesses deep relationship with Karajan, is part of commemorative events to celebrate the record of this distinguished man.

Herbert von Karajan, who was called the "Caesar of the conductor' s podium" , was born in Salzburg in 1908. Beginning with his first trip to Japan in 1954, he visited Japan 11 times. His graceful style of conducting, bringing down his hands while keeping his eyes closed, became extremely famous, and he dazzled not only fans of classical music but also many ordinary Japanese as well. Karajan is undoubtedly the representative conductor of the 20th century, which achievements that include serving as the Lifetime Conductor for the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the General Music Director for the Vienna State Opera, Director of the German Opera Division at the Teatro alla Scalla in Milan, Lifetime Art Director for the Chorus at the Weiner Musikverein, Art Director for the Salzburg Festival, and Music Advisor to the Orchestre de Paris. This year marks the memorable 100th anniversary of his birth.

Victory at the Karajan Competition, and.

An examination of the exchange that has taken place between Karajan and the Waseda Symphony Orchestra can be traced back to an event which took place 30 years ago. In 1978, the Waseda orchestra participated in the 5th International Youth Orchestra Competition (commonly referred to as the Karajan Competition). Among all the orchestras in the competition, our orchestra was based the furthest from Germany and was the largest participating orchestra. At that competition, the Waseda orchestra won the gold medal for its performance of Stravinsky' s "Rite of Spring" at the Berliner Philharmonie. Karajan was impressed by Waseda' s victory over other orchestra groups which contained many professional performers, stating that "I can' t believe that there is not a single professional in the Waseda orchestra." He also promised to conduct our orchestra in the future.

On the final day of the competition, the award ceremony and the victory performance of the Waseda orchestra was held at the Philharmonie. Also, the overture to Valdi' s "The Force of Destiny" was performed by the International Orchestra (an orchestra assembled from the representatives of each participating orchestra). The concert master of the International Orchestra was Waseda orchestra member Setsuo Sasaki. Karajan was scheduled to conduct this performance, but unfortunately, the collaboration could not be achieved due to his sudden illness.

On December 20th, a Time for Dreams again at Okuma Auditorium

However, the dream of a joint performance with Karajan was realized sooner than expected, in the following year. In 1979, Waseda University decided to present Karajan with an Honorary Doctorate. At that time, an open rehearsal was to be held at Okuma Auditorium.

As the Waseda University school song played in the background, Karajan, who was wearing a cap and gown, appeared in the main auditorium of Okuma Auditorium. He received his Honorary Doctorate from the hand of Tsukasa Shimizu, who was university President at that time. After the ceremony, Karajan directly conducted the performance of R. Strauss' s tone poem "Till Eulenspiegel's Merry Pranks" at the open recital on the same day. This dream-like occasion was certainly unforgettable for all members of the orchestra group, and was an hour that has been be verbally passed on to future members of the Waseda orchestra.

The Waseda orchestra, which possesses the strong ties to Karajan as explained above, is holding a Concert to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Karajan' s Birth. The concert will be held on December 20th (Saturday) at Okuma Auditorium, which is a place rich with the memories of Karajan. Also, the orchestra will perform the tone poem "A Hero' s Life" , which is a work of R. Strauss, who is the composer of the works which were performed in the open rehearsal with Karajan. Waseda' s concert is the only concert among all of Japan' s orchestra groups to be officially recognized by the Karajan Foundation as a "Concert to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Karajan' s Birth" . Our orchestra has also received permission to use the "KARAJAN 2008" logo, which is limited to groups and corporations which held deep relations to Karajan before his death.

At the same time, during the period from December 18th (Thursday), 2008 to January 23rd (Friday), 2009, an exhibition will be held at the Waseda Gallery (Waseda Campus, Bldg. No. 27, 1st Floor). The exhibit will feature records of the exchange between Karajan, our orchestra, and Waseda University, such as photographs from the time of his visit to Waseda.

Transmitting the "Sound of the Wase-Oke" to the World

Waseda University Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1913, and is operated by approximately 300 students of Waseda University. In Japanese, the orchestra is known fondly as the "Wase-Oke" among Waseda university students and many members of the general public. Our orchestra conducts a broad range of activities in both Japan and overseas. In addition to 5 to 6 performances a year at sponsored public performances and university events, our orchestra has performed 11 overseas concerts up until now.

For from February to March of 2009, there is a plan to hold what will be our 12th overseas performance, the 2009 European Tour. This tour is scheduled to hold performances the major concert halls of 11 cities in 3 European countries. These are exclusive concert halls possessing centuries of tradition, including the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, the Weiner Musikverein, the Berlin Philharmonie, and the Dresden National Theatre.

In our past overseas performances, the Waseda orchestra has achieved international cultural exchange by introducing a number of works by Japanese composers, such as Maki Ishii, Yuzo Toyama, and Yasushi Akutagawa. Venues where the Waseda orchestra has performed in the past have empathized with our activities, and we have received many requests for encore performances. Also, the Waseda orchestra wants to pass on to the next generation the knowledge that has been gained through many years of performing. Therefore, the current tour, which will be our 12th performance overseas, is a plan to convey the sound of the Wase-Oke to the world.

"It is accurate to say that the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra is on par with almost all of the professional orchestras throughout the world."
(Frankfurter Allgemeine Newspaper)

"I can not remember hearing, even once, an amateur orchestra that could be compared with a number of the professional orchestras which are famous throughout the world."
(S辰chsische Zeitung Newspaper)

These are criticisms, which were published in famous German newspapers, are in regards to the past overseas performances of the Waseda orchestra. As evidenced, our orchestra receives unusually high praise for an amateur orchestra which is composed of students. In the future, the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra will continue to give our utmost effort to perform music that touches the hearts of people.

Overview of Performance

Waseda University Symphony Orchestra: Concert to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Karajan' s Birth

Date: December 20th (Saturday), 2008, beginning from 3:00 P.M.
Venue: Waseda University Okuma Auditorium, Main Auditorium
Conductor: Masahiko Tanaka (Waseda University Alumnus/Lifetime Honorary Advisor to the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra)
Cello: Gabriel Schwabe
Program: Weber / Opera "Euryanthe" Overture
R. Strauss / Tone Poem "A Hero' s Life" , Op. 40
Violin: Marina Yasuda
Saint-Sa谷ns / Cello Concerto No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 33
J.S. Bach, Schoenberg / Prelude and Fuga in E Flat Major

(Free Admission)

*On the day of the performance, tickets for reserved seats will be distributed with priority given to those who possess a voucher.
*For details on the voucher, please view the homepage of the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra.
*Issuance of vouchers for Waseda University students, alumni, faculty, and staff will be performed from November 20th (Thursday) on the Waseda-net portal.

Overview of Exhibition
Theme: "Karajan and Waseda University Symphony Orchestra"
Contents: Panel of photographs taken at the time of Karajan' s visit to Japan.
Images from the European Performance of the Waseda University Symphony Orchestra Etc.
Period: December 18th (Thursday), 2008 to January 23rd (Friday), 2009
10:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (excludes Sundays and year-end/new-year holidays) (winter vacation is held from December 28th to January 4th)
Venue: Waseda Gallery (Waseda Campus, Bldg. No. 27, 1st Floor) (Free Admission)
Sponsor: Waseda University Symphony Orchestra 03-3204-3585  http://www.wso-tokyo.jp
Cosponsor: Waseda University Cultural Affairs Division?03-3203-2643  http://www.waseda.jp/cac