Harvest time approaches in this paddy field where the world's best quality rice grows.

Last concert in Minami-Uonuma

The Kimisawa Chamber Orchestra held its 15th and the last annual concert on the last weekend. Amateur musicians from the Tokyo and Yokohama areas got together again for jointly playing music and deepening friendship.

The Kimisawa Chamber Orchestra used to form once a year for the sake of holding a classical music concert in the gymnasium of the Ishiuchi Elementary School. Yo-chan started this event 15 years ago and invited friends from his diverse circles of friends. All participants profited from his untiring efforts to arrange summer concerts in a famous ski resort. Arranging concerts include lots of detailed work starting from preparing sheet music, contracting with a conductor, inviting fellow musicians, reserving hotel rooms, arranging parties and so on. Yo-chan and his wife Tamiko-san, did the work just for their own fun and the joy of participating musicians.

We owe our pleasure also to the work on the Uonuma side which was done by Takahashi-san and his volunteer team. I am sure that the people in Minami-Uonuma also enjoyed the rare occasions to hear classical music in live.

Three organizers at the post-concert party: (from left to right) Tamiko-san, Yo-chan and Takahashi-san.

After the concert, Takahashi-san thanked the audience for their attendance and cooperation in the last 15 years.

The Ishiuchi Elementary School taken from its schoolyard. (from left to right) Pool, gymnasium (our concert hall) and classrooms.

We could see much more people participating in the post-concert party than at the previous concerts.
Of course, we are sad that the Kimisawa Chamber Orchestra ends its activities. However, everything that has started must end sooner or later. At least, "15" sounds like a good number to mark a good end. For me the particular attraction of this annual musical event is the possibility to meet people whom I otherwise never have chances to meet and jointly play music, chat and drink. Yo-chan knows all participants, but each participant knows only a part of us. However, when we play together, we can start communication as if we know each other for years. Music has power.


    Part 1
  • Petite Suite by Debussy
  • Pavane pour une infante défunte by Ravel
  • Pavane by Fauré
  • Soprano solo
    • Hamabe no Uta (Seaside song)
    • Aka-Tombo (Red dragonfly)
    • Kono michi (This way)
    • Ebben?...Ne andro lontana (La Wally) by Catalani
    • Solveig's Song (Peer Gynt) by Grieg
    • Un bel dì (Madame Butterfly) by Puccini
    • Coro a bocca chiusa (Madame Butterfly) by Puccini (instrumental)
    • Pace, pace mio Dio (La forza del destino) by Verdi

    Part 2
  • Let's sing together!
    • School song of the Ishiuchi Elementary School
    • Homeland ondo
    • Kabanosawa ondo
  • Die Fledermaus Overture by J. Strauß II
  • Musical world tour with the theme of "Around the world"
  • Homeland
This is the concert program and we had a whole day rehearsal two weeks earlier in Yokohama and a few hours' rehearsal in the hotel before the evening party.

Evening barbecue party and the following musical sessions are of course important attractions. Lots of meat, vegetable and noodle were barbecued and bottles of beer and local sake were opened, but many of the musicians started already at an early timing their pleasure of joint music play. I participated in the groups for Bach's concert for two violins and Mozart's oboe quartet with violin and Romanian Folk Dances by Bartok with viola.

Everybody rushed to the drink-corner during intermissions, where delicious well water was available. However, after drinking heavenly drink, it turns to sweat!
I must add, what was unusual to the 15th concert was a fierce heat wave. Though the altitude of Minami Uonuma is less than 200m, we used to enjoy rather cool nights and the day temperature was not extremely high and there were occasionally showers. However, this year the heat was really highly unusual.

Most of the audience used fan during intermissions. As a player, I regret that I had drunk the delicious cold well water, because when music started sweat fell down from my face - not back or belly - like waterfall and I had to take up a towel and wipe down sweat at every possible pause. Some volunteer wives later expressed their appreciation that I made so much efforts to play in the overheated concert hall!

We stayed in this hotel "Alpenhof Gojokan". The older part (left) looked like a samurai helmet from the other side. The new part was a Tirolean house from outside as its name indicated, but not its inside!

Entertainment area as a ghost town
In the expectation to inspire fresh air, I got up early and took a walk around our hotel. Unfortunately, though it was as early as 5:30 am, the air was not refreshing but very humid and I felt as if I was in a sauna.

A ski resort in summer looked like a ghost town. Ski hotels and guesthouses were closed except for our hotel thanks to the participants and their families of the Kimisawa Chamber Orchestra! All vending machines were switched off, though they stood in row here and there. Cheap imitations of Tirolean or Bavarian style houses looked miserable in an empty town.
Hotel Greenplaza (photo above), one of the large hotels managed by big capital, seemed to attract certain guests, but it also lacked the allure it might have in winter time.

Away from a rather small area for ski guests, we can see rather ordinary provincial landscape with rice field and irrigation ditches where frogs and little fishes enjoy their undisturbed life. Also from the distance mountainous landscape looked peaceful and friendly.