Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra embarks on Japanese tour

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio

The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, one of the leading ensembles in the country, has embarked on their 12th tour of Japan, where they are scheduled to play over a dozen concerts. Just a few days before they set off on their journey, I caught up with the orchestra’s head Jakub Čížek and asked him for more details about the tour:

Jakub Čížek,  photo: Khalil Baalbaki / Czech Radio
“The orchestra will spend three weeks in Japan and we are going to visit the major cities, such as Tokio, Osaka, Nagoya and Hiroshima as well as several other smaller cities.”

Japanese are known for admiring Czech music. Which composers are particularly popular in Japan?

“We are asked to perform mainly Dvořák, so all of the 13 concerts will introduce Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’ in the second half of the programme. We usually start with Smetana’s ‘Moldau’ and then we will offer some concertos by Dvořák, Rachmaninov and Chopin.

Where does this love of Czech music come from?

“This is a question I have been asked many times. I think the Japanese love all European music. There are many Japanese students at the universities and conservatories here in the Czech Republic and all around Europe. I personally think that the Czech as well as Russian music, especially the Romantic era, is very melodic and it is probably something that first the Japanese nature.”

What is it like playing for the Japanese audience? Do they react differently from European listeners?

“I would say no, but they are very concentrated during the whole performance. They are very quiet and they listen carefully to our performance. In the end there is usually a big applause and a standing ovation following the encores.

“So especially in the big halls, such as Suntory Hallor at the Aichi Centre or the one in Nagoya, which accommodate more than 2000 people, it is really a great experience.”

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra,  photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio
How many people overall do you expect to attend your concerts?

“If I look at the programme, which includes big halls with around 2,000 seats as well as some smaller halls, I would say we can expect around 20,000 people.”

Which venue are you personally looking forward to visiting again?

“It’s of course the famous Santori Hall in Tokio. But I personally like the symphony hall in Nagoya, which has the best acoustics I have ever experienced.”