YOMIURI NIPPON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 2017-18 SEASON / YNSO’s new season offers variety, excitement

The Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra performs at Suntory Hall in Tokyo last year.

By Taku Iwaki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterThe Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra’s program for the 2017-18 season is full of brilliance and variety fit for the orchestra’s 55th anniversary in April.

Sylvain Cambreling, the orchestra’s principal conductor, will conduct the Japanese premiere of Messiaen’s epic opera “Saint Francois d’Assise” in its entirety in a concert-style performance in November, while Cornelius Meister, who will become the orchestra’s principal guest conductor, will show his artistry in September and December.

The soloists to perform with the orchestra in the new season include some of the most prominent names in classical music today, such as violinist Gidon Kremer, performing colorful works ranging from popular classics to contemporary masterpieces.

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  • Cornelius Meister

  • Yuri Temirkanov

  • © Berthold Fabricius

    Simone Young

The orchestra will give 56 concerts at five venues in Tokyo and Yokohama. In a change from recent years, the Subscription Concerts and the Popular Series concerts will take place at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, from April to September because the usual venue, Suntory Hall in Akasaka, Tokyo, is currently under renovation.

In addition, three Subscription Concerts will be held in Osaka.

The concerts are divided into eight subscription series: Subscription Concerts, Popular Series, Saturday Matinee Series, Sunday Matinee Series, Yokohama Minato Mirai Holiday Popular Series, Yomikyo Ensemble Series, Subscription Concerts in Osaka, and Parthenon Popular Series.

Cambreling, whose reign at the YNSO will be in its eighth year, will open the new season in April, conducting Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 “Titan” in two Matinee Series concerts and then taking on Bartok’s great one-act opera “The Bluebeard’s Castle” in a concert-style performance. Expectations are already running high on how he will deliver the seasoned mastery in conducting Bartok’s only opera, which is somber but also full of colors and rich in psychological nuances.

In May, Ondrej Lenard will conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 “Eroica” and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Kate Liu as the soloist.

Simone Young will make her debut with the YNSO in June. The accomplished conductor honed her art at the world’s major opera houses and was the general music director of the Hamburg State Opera. With the YNSO, she will show her skills with orchestral music in Richard Strauss’ “Eine Alpensinfonie,” Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 and other works.

Hidemi Suzuki, who is particularly masterful in music of the Classical period, will also conduct the YNSO for the first time, in July. He is expected to give a fresh sensation to the audience with his performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 supported by an in-depth interpretation of the work.

Jacek Kaspszyk, a Polish maestro, will conduct the YNSO in September. He is expected to give a robust performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 4.

Meister has mesmerized the audience with lively performances with the YNSO ever since he made his debut with the orchestra in autumn in 2014. The German conductor’s first appearances with the orchestra after becoming the principal guest conductor are the Matinee Series concerts in September. The program includes Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 “Pastorale,” with which he will bring out polished sonority from the orchestra. At a Subscription Concert in December, he will put on a lavish music drama with Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 3.

Meister, who is set to succeed Cambreling as the general music director of the Stuttgart State Opera in Germany from the 2018-19 season, is seen as one of the most competent conductors of his generation. He said he is happy to be the principal guest conductor of the YNSO, which is acclaimed in Europe as the best orchestra in Asia.

“I was very pleased to say yes to the invitation to become the principal guest conductor. It is a great honor for me,” he said. “They [YNSO members] are very precise and well prepared, but they are also emotionally expressive musicians ... We will be happy to perform huge, romantic pieces from the European culture, but also we will play pieces from the Classical period.”

Also in December, Emmanuel Krivine will take the baton in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral,” the perennial work for the year-end. The distinguished conductor, whose posts in the past include music director of the Orchestre National de Lyon, France, will fully bring out the joy in the symphony with rich sounds.

In February 2018, Yuri Temirkanov, the conductor laureate of the YNSO, will bring three brilliant programs featuring Respighi’s “I pini di Roma,” Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 “From the New World,” Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 and other works. These will be good opportunities to render yourself to the impassioned performances by the Russian maestro, who excels in both lyricism and the ability to achieve well-structured performances.

In March next year, up-and-coming conductor Henrik Nanasi will dare to take on Richard Strauss’ symphonic poem “Also sprach Zarathustra” with its monumental sounds. Now the general music director of the Komische Oper Berlin, he is a gifted conductor who is capable of producing both heavy and lighthearted sounds and delivering amazing performances.

Tickets and memberships

Subscription memberships are now on sale. Students aged 25 or younger can apply for a student membership.

Subscriptions include a set of discounted tickets, and entitle members to receive gifts, such as a CD.

For tickets and memberships, call the Yomiuri Ticket Center at (0570) 00-4390 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily (in Japanese) or visit the English-language page on the YNSO’s official website ( To purchase tickets, click on the “Buy ticket” icon on the page for the concert you wish to attend. Speech

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