Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra receives warm welcome in Japan

Radio-Symphoniker (Foto: Tomáš Vodňanský, Archiv des Tschechischen Rundfunks)

The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, one of the Czech Republic’s finest ensembles, is currently touring Japan on what is already their 12th visit to the country. Starting last week in Morioka in the north of the country, they have performed four concerts to date of an overall thirteen.

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, archive photo: Tomáš Vodňanský / Czech Radio
I caught up with the orchestra’s head Jakub Čížek over the phone to Tokyo and asked him to tell me more details about the ongoing tour:

“We have already visited the local cities, including Morioka, Aomori and Yamagata, which are the capital cities of different prefectures.

“The Japanese have very nice concerts halls, which can accommodate around 2,000 people. All these halls were absolutely full, the concerts were sold out. We were received very well and received a big applause in the end.”

What was on the programme?

“We are always asked to perform Antonín Dvořák’s Ninth Symphony and Bedřich Smetana’s Vltava, which are the most popular Czech music pieces here in Japan. They love it. We performed these pieces in all of the cities, and then we had some concertos, including Rachmaninov and Chopin.

Which of the concerts made the biggest impression on you?

“The biggest impression so far was Tokio’s Suntory Hall, the most famous concert hall in Japan and one of the most famous concert halls in the world, which has great acoustics.

“There were more than 2,000 people and we had two encores by pianist Vadym Kholodenko and two encores by the orchestra, so we spent more than two and a half hours in the hall, and it was great.

Have you also engaged some local musicians to perform with you?

“We are going to perform with pianist Fuzjiko Hemming, cellist Dai Miyata and violinist Keisuke Okazaki. So yes, we will also engage local Japanese artists.”

Jakub Čížek, photo: Khalil Baalbaki / Czech Radio
What are the upcoming events on your programme?

“The upcoming concerts that are awaiting us in the next few days will be in Osaka, Nagoya, Hiroshima and Fukuoka, just to name a few.”

And finally, this is already the twelfth tour of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Many of the orchestra’s members have visited Japan repeatedly. Do they look forward to returning to Japan and how do they spend their free time?

“We always like to come back to Japan. When we have a free day, we like to get some rest, but we also like to visit some sites, such as shrines, temples or gardens.”