A Music Festival Offering Fun for All Ages
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO) in collaboration with the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre (TMT) and Toshima City are holding the TOKYO MET SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL — SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL for short — again this summer with a variety of programs. We asked TMSO’s TAKESUE Kentaro and TMT’s SOMIYA Maya, who are in charge of production, what we should listen and watch for this year and what they’re working on.
The Cries of Babies are an Important Part of the Concert.
TAKESUE:The “SaLaD” part of “SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL” stands for “Sing and Listen and Dance”. As the name suggests, singing, listening, and dancing are the concepts behind this music festival. Some highlights are “OK! Orchestra” and “SaLaD Music Festival Main Concert”, which are conducted by TMSO music director ONO Kazushi. We’re also planning “Gold!” music theatre for young audiences as well as workshops, mini-concerts, and virtual orchestra conducting activities.
“OK! Orchestra” is a concert that allows babies in the audience, and crying and laughing are okay, so it’s quite popular. Emceed by KOBAYASHI Kensaku, who is well known from children’s television programs, this event will feature a wide range of musical genres, from the video game music of “Dragon Quest” to classical music such as “Orpheus in the Underworld”. The dancing should be a visual feast with the involvement of the Condors. The energetic singing of the Little Singers of Tokyo also deserves attention.
the essence of the SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL.
TAKESUE:The “SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL Main Concert” is a collaborative program between TMSO and our wonderful guests. Continuing from last year, we will cooperate with Noism Company Niigata from the first piece, which is “The Chairman Dances”. Our next piece is a collaboration with YOSHINO Naoko, one of Japan’s best harpists, followed by a mesmerizing dance performance of “Adagietto” from Mahler's Symphony No. 5 by Noism’s ISEKI Sawako. Last is “Gloria”, a great piece by Poulenc that will be collaboratively performed by the remarkable soprano KOBAYASHI Atsuko and the New National Theatre Chorus. I’m excited about that one myself.
Somewhat Mysterious Tale! “Gold!” music theatre for young audiences
SOMIYA:Last year, our opera for children was postponed, but this year, we are working on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, so the program can go ahead. The audience will watch from their seats, but we plan to develop the content in a way that provides an interactive, participatory experience. This piece, which is called “Gold!”, is an opera based on a Grimm’s fairytale. There are only two people on stage: a soprano and a percussionist. Each of them plays several roles as they draw the children into a special world. Right now, it is easy to lose touch with people during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the content of this piece reminds us of what is really important.
Workshops and Virtual Conducting Too!
TAKESUE:The SaLaD Workshop, which was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place this year with all possible measures taken to prevent the spread of disease. Unfortunately, we are no longer accepting applications.
However, we plan to have workshops in which you can perform together with TMSO members, workshops for singing and dance, and workshops for making cajóns. Also, “Conduct a Virtual Orchestra” allows same-day sign-up participants. It lets you conduct the TMSO in your own way on a big screen. I hope you get to participate.
SOMIYA:The theater tours provided alongside the music festival are also highly recommended. Each workshop is a participatory program that lets you learn about the unique “singing, listening, and dancing” of the SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL directly from top artists who are at the forefront of their respective fields. Additionally, just like last year, there is “SaLaD video content” that will gradually be released as the videos are completed, so you can enjoy the diverse and exciting SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL at home.
As I was thinking about what art is, one answer I had was that it is an unchanging “mode” created by humans that allows creators to connect with many people through their work and their expression.
In a world where it’s difficult to live a free lifestyle, if we lose the freedom of art as well, we might end up with a world in which our connections are even weaker.
I want SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL to be a music festival that connects numerous people as a place where diverse art can be experienced.
A theater breathes through the presence of artists, and the theater only comes to life when there is an audience there to feel it.
I have been impressed and moved by works, and I feel that learning about others helps us learn about ourselves and enriches our daily lives. I believe that art that is created with care by human hands has the power to reach deep into the hearts of people of all ages and to captivate people.
In a society that demands diversity, I want our festival to be like a department store of art that communicates art to various people — a place where people can discover its unchanging, universal beauty and be fascinated anew amidst the changing values of the COVID-19 pandemic. If we can later look back on the present as the culture that defined 2020s Tokyo, I will be very happy to be someone who played a part in that culture.
TOKYO MET SaLaD MUSIC FESTIVAL 2021Official Website
Pavilions are appearing for a limited time in several locations in Tokyo, centered around the new National Stadium. This event has been named PAVILION TOKYO 2021. Some of the world’s top architects and artists are presenting works that incorporate their respective visions in Tokyo this summer.
A special house has been set up inside the Shibuya City Office No. 2 Mitake Office. It contains rooms so completely white that even the furniture, fixtures, and columns are white. Inside those rooms, visitors are asked to place polka dot-like stickers — a lifelong passion of Kusama — on the walls. Once the three rooms have been filled with colorful stickers, the space disappears, and one gets the sensation that the awareness of self has been obliterated by the polka dots.
The organizer of PAVILION TOKYO 2021, WATARI Koichi of WATARI-UM, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, speaks with great emotion as he describes the event. “This is one of the most popular installations of KUSAMA Yayoi’s art, and it is exhibited yearly in various parts of the world. I think it’s the first time in the world to have three rooms, and it’s also unusual for her to participate in a group exhibition like this event. I think the meaning of this year’s installation in Tokyo will also appeal to those who participate.”
Opening the sliding oval door on the first floor leads to an tearoom. Then you climb a narrow ladder, which represents the narrow crawl-in entrance to a teahouse called the nijiriguchi, to reach the tearoom, which is just four and a half tatami mats (about 7.3 square meters) in size. The architect, FUJIMORI Terunobu, says, “I want to look at large things from small things. Wouldn’t it be nice to look up at the new National Stadium from here? He smiles with a slightly mischievous air as he speaks. Tea House “Go-an” is covered with a type of Japanese grass called koraishiba. The second floor, which is the tearoom portion, is covered with black charred cedar boards. You can spend a lot of time examining the detailed architecture and enjoying the contrast with the new National Stadium.
In the past, FUJIMORI has produced buildings that fuse man-made objects with nature, such as a treehouse tearoom called Takasugi-an and the grass roof of La Collina Omihachiman.
“The new National Stadium uses classical forms that have been around since the Roman era. This teahouse also uses very classical forms. I want people to enjoy seeing each of these locations from the perspective of the other.”
AIDA Makoto spoke with us in front of his pavilion, Tokyo Castle, which stands at the entrance to a row of gingko trees. “The sad and unfortunate reality is that Japan is a country of disasters. That’s why there are so many situations where cardboard and blue tarps come in handy. I can’t help feeling that these are very important materials.”
The foundation of Tokyo Castle, which consists of two pieces shaped like Japanese castles, was designed by SANO Toshikata, the architect who was put in charge of constructing barracks after the Great Kanto Earthquake, using the stone walls of Edo Castle. This pavilion has a destiny-like connection with Edo Castle, but Aida says that when he first proposed the idea, he thought it might not be approved. “I was quite surprised when my project was able to proceed thanks to the efforts of many people.”
One of the pieces is made from special cardboard with a special water-resistant treatment, and the other is made from blue tarps anchored by sandbags and secured with ropes by carpenters. The pavilion’s description says that it demonstrates “the resilience of humans”, but it actually evokes a variety of feelings in visitors. An unforgettable work of art has been created by making use of the influence of the surrounding scenery — rows of concrete buildings.
Other pavilions at Pavilion Tokyo 2021 include Suimei (SEJIMA Kazuyo), a pavilion that resembles the waterways of a Heian-era garden in the winding stream style known as kyokusui; Cloud pavilion (FUJIMOTO Sou), which resembles the clouds the artist likes; Global Bowl (HIRATA Akihisa), a bowl-shaped structure full of large holes in a plaza in front of United Nations University; Kokage-gumo (ISHIGAMI Junya), a structure made from charred cedar that provides shade at Kudan House; and STREET GARDEN THEATER (FUJIWARA Teppei), a pavilion in front of the former National Children’s Castle built with the theme of a street-like theatre. Also on display in a vacant lot near WATARI-UM, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art is “2020-2021” (MANABE Daito and Rhizomatiks), an exhibit that uses abstract images and text to show canceled events.
Even if you can’t actually visit each pavilion, you can enjoy the experience of travelling through time and space while you allow your imagination to explore the visions embedded in each work of art.
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
PAVILION TOKYO 2021
How would someone typically answer a question like, “What looks completely different when seen from a distance than when seen up close?” A mountain would probably be some people’s answer. If you actually hike or climb a majestic mountain that is visible from afar, you discover an environment filled with numerous plants and living creatures. It’s the same object, but there is certainly a big difference between the near and far views.
SUPER WALL ART TOKYO also looks completely different when viewed up close compared to how it looks from a distance. It’s such a luxury to be allowed to imagine how you would enjoy the world’s largest mural, over 7,000 m² in size.
SUPER WALL ART TOKYO is two enormous murals created by YOKOO Tadanori and YOKOO Mimi. They were revealed in 2021, and they use the sides of two Tokyo skyscrapers: the Shin-Marunouchi Building and the Marunouchi Building. The theme of Tadanori’s is “Water (aqua)”, and the theme of Mimi’s is “Fire (ignis)”.
There is, in fact, a spot inside the building at the Yaesu Exit on the other side of Tokyo Station where you can see the entirety of both murals at the same time. The exquisite placement of these murals makes one feel that the power of these two organically connected works is floating amidst the city of Tokyo.
Now, let’s get closer to the glass walls. From the plaza at Tokyo Station, I can look up and see the details of the murals. Each time I do so, I see things about each mural that are completely different from the distant view. Tadanori’s work is comprised of rows of postcards of waterfalls — no two alike — that he has collected around the world over the years. The feeling of affirmation from this state of diversity seems to come pouring down from above my head. Looking at Mimi’s work, on the other hand, one can discover a seemingly endless number of plants and animals that she has painted — including her favorite, the panda.
Tadanori and Mimi signed the 1,480th and 798th panels, respectively, as proof of completion at the completion announcement ceremony held on July 17. Naturally, you must get up close to see these panels as well.
There are lots of skyscrapers and plazas in the vicinity of Tokyo Station. These large murals evoke different mental responses according to where they are viewed from. I suggest that you try to find a spot that you like the most.
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
SUPER WALL ART TOKYO
SUMIDA RIVER: Storm and Urge is a music and art festival where you can enjoy performances, installations and more by some of Japan’s top artists. It uses a stretch of the Sumida River that spans 10 km north to south as its stage.
I would like to report on two of the three online programs from Spring Season, which were Hama-rikyu Ambient, Passing the Words and ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS! “All Electronics Are Brothers”.
The livestreaming location was the Hama-rikyu Gardens, which were closed to the public at the moment of the event. This is one of the nicest gardens in Tokyo, so it was unfortunate that the event had to proceed without audience.
The performers included HASUNUMA Shuta, who works in a variety of fields including film, theater, dance, music for commercials, and music production, as well as his orchestra, the Shuta Hasunuma Philharmonic Orchestra, and guest artists OSAKI Sayaka, OTONASHI Fumiya, KAKUDO Manami, and TERAO Saho.
The weather looked unstable for a while, but clear skies came into distant view by the time the event started. The performers were all dressed in kimonos. The first song started with the sounds of the sho as twilight fell.
There were seven songs in total. They performed “Imr”, a piece that was completed remotely last year without the performers ever meeting each other, and “I Imagine”, a new piece in which performers recited poems they had written beforehand while they performed.
The word “ambient” also means “of the environment”. As the performance went on, the dark gardens were illuminated by dim lights. During the 90 minutes I spent enjoying that fantastic space through my screen, I felt as if the songs they played were pouring down onto the green trees and then melting into the night sky.
This event was livestreamed from MURASAKI PARK TOKYO in Senju, Adachi Ward, and it had to be without audience. The performer was WADA Ei, who has been performing and exhibiting not only in Japan but also in other Asian countries and in Europe.
The first half of the event was the “Striped Sessions” workshop, which took place via Zoom. It was really unique and interesting!
If you swap the video and audio connectors of your TV, a pattern of stripes will appear on the screen. This was an experiment to answer the question, “What happens if we do the reverse and convert stripe patterns into audio?”
When participants from various countries projected their own stripe patterns, such as shirts with horizontal stripes, at various distances from their web camera, indescribable buzzing sounds were heard.
The experiment itself was interesting, but what was most impressive was how much fun WADA himself was having, which could be plainly seen through the screen. Excitement seems to be contagious. I welcome that kind of contagion.
The title of this show, “ELECTRONICOS FANTASTICOS!”, refers to a project, begun by WADA in 2015, to revive disused electronic appliances as new electromagnetic instruments.
For the second half of the show, WADA and members of the Nicos Orchest-Lab performed together using those home appliance instruments while a skateboard with a barcode reader attached ran over and “played” barcodes that had been installed at the venue. It was an amazing performance!
Those 90 minutes just flew by. The workshop was also attended by children of about elementary school age. This project is sure to attract the interest of children and to expand their dreams from all angles, including technology, art, and play.
Each program in SUMIDA RIVER: Storm and Urge is well worth seeing. For the summer season, three programs are scheduled to take place that make full use of the combined online/offline format and the participation of such wonderful artists as SAKAMOTO Ryuichi and TAKAGI Masakatsu: The Nature Plays the Main Melody with Harmony from the Piano Water State 1, and Dawn of the Sky.
Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL Special 13
SUMIDA RIVER: Storm and Urge
*This information is current as of August 6, 2021. Please see each program’s official website for the latest information.
I love movies and technology. I travel around Tokyo by bicycle. I enjoy the scenes of daily life that I experience while riding, like the smell of dinner.
I love movies and entertainment in general, traditional crafts, and manufacturing sites. I believe that intuition is important today. I like cats and try to get close whenever I see one.
I love contemporary art, movies, and music. I’ve also become interested in traditional performing arts recently. I also have a weakness for good food and watching sports.