Saturday, June 06, 2009

enjoying arts for free

It looks like there are quite a few shows that I could attend in Tokyo without burning a hole in my pocket. To think that just last year I was complaining sharing about how expensive and unattainable some of these tickets were.

Just this year itself, I've had the opportunity to quench my thirst in the arts scene with the following for free:

Arts #1 : Ballet Recital

Date : 7 Feb 2009
Time : 5pm
Venue : Tokyo Metropolitan Children's Hall, Shibuya

The Oobayashi family invited us to their mother-and-daughter performance at Shibuya early this year. The recital was more of an intimate gathering for families whose daughters (mainly) would be showcasing their talents and tutu's.

Even though Mrs Oobayashi only took up ballet a few years ago, probably to accompany her daughter, it was rather inspiring to see someone her age taking up something that would need flexibility in the muscles.

I later learnt that it's not uncommon for Japanese children to take up lessons in piano, violin, ballet and other musical instruments as it's relatively quite affordable here. No wonder there are so many talented Japanese in the musical arena.

Arts #2 : Romeo & Juliet

Date : 18 May 2009
Time : 4:40pm
Venue : Waseda University Okuma Auditorium

Since I've watched the winning match between the Big Bears and Unicorns, I was extended an invitation to catch Romeo and Juliet on stage together with my Waseda friends, Aishah and Amin.

Okuma Auditorium was one of the first buildings that I saw when I was first introduced to the school. Just like Tokyo University, its design is heavily influenced by Western architecture so much so that Aishah noted that it looked like a chapel.

While reading up on Romeo and Juliet (I seriously don't remember having watched it before!), I found out that the International Theatre Company London was touring Japan, giving performances in universities around the country. For some reason, Waseda students (and honourary affiliates :)) get to watch for free, while many others have to pay for admission. What blessing!

Using only a minimalist approach to the props and stage setup plus only 6 actors, I think that's something commendable, especially if archaic English was used in a mainly-Japanese audience. That meant relying a lot on gestures and expressions to convey the story across.

Arts #3 : Orchestra

Date : 23 May 2009
Time : 6pm
Venue : Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space

Not too long after that theatre performance, I had the privilege of attending a classical performance complete with orchestra, choir and vocals, thanks to Tracy. Her host mum was in the choir, and had bought tickets for her, which she shared with us.

According to Tracy, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space is one of the better music halls as it even has the pipe organs on a separate level from the rest of the orchestra. Even though this was my first time, I could see that the interior itself was rather impressive. Maybe not as new, but bigger than our DFP.

The programme for the evening was Mozart's Krönungs-Messe and Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem Op. 45.

The 1st composition was supposed to be a Coronation Mass, with selections taken from Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei. The music itself was so rich and exuberant that at times it felt more like an opera.

The whole 7 movements of the 2nd piece were performed. Much deservedly so, for it is Brahms' longest composition. Due to the scale of this work and the length of the piece, the size of the choir and orchestra also grew accordingly. For this piece, the members of the choir filled up even the last seats at the back.

I particularly like that they put up Japanese subtitles on the banner which explained the lyrics. So even if I didn't quite understand German, at least the Japanese helped!

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