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Tokyo Orchestra Vows to Rise after Earthquake

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Download It was one story that was swallowed up earlier this year, by the horrific events of Japan's earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns.

But for music lovers in Japan, March the 11th will be remembered as the day the earthquake almost destroyed the home of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

The magnitude-nine quake caused tens of millions of dollars in damage to the orchestra's state-of-the-art venue, leading to cancelled performances and forcing the TSO to practise at makeshift venues.

But the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra is vowing to rise again.

Mark Willacy has the report.


They have three days to get this right. In a rented hall here in Kawasaki City the 90 members of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra are rehearsing for a big performance.

They're stuffed into this small stage because their seven-year-old state-of-the-art hall just down the road just couldn't stand up to the rocking and rolling of the March earthquake.

Orchestra’s managing director, Junji Ohno.

“It was a Friday. We were supposed to have a concert at the hall that night but then I got a call saying there'd be some damage. I thought it would just be minor, but boy was I surprised. The ceiling had fallen in, the lights and speakers had crashed to the floor and the lobby was flooded by the sprinklers.”

Nearly nine months on from the magnitude 9 earthquake, the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra's hall is still a mess. The ceiling is still all over the seating and the orchestra pit. Speakers and lights litter the floor. It was lucky no-one was killed.

Shigeo Kameoka is Kawasaki City official.

"It will cost $20-million to repair. And it won't be ready for another 16 months.”

And it's clear the site is still very unsafe with the ghosts of March 11 still causing havoc.

While we are there a large section of ceiling slips from the second tier of seating, workers take cover. The damage to its hall has cost the orchestra both in performances and revenue and has made rehearsals a nightmare.

"We've had about 20 of our concerts cancelled. Our financial position has become very difficult.”

The orchestra has had to rely on renting other halls around Kawasaki City to rehearse and today's practice is done with the usual professionalism and fortitude the TSO is renowned for.

The big night has arrived and the Tokyo Symphony is performing a piece by the French composer Faure to a packed house. It's testament to this orchestra's resolve and resilience that it's even on stage tonight.

"March 11 was a terrible day for the Japanese people and us. Our hall is our home, anyone who plays music understands that. So it's been hard for us to lose our home.”

Homeless it may be, but the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra still has the respect and admiration of this audience.

Last Updated ( Monday, 05 December 2011 10:10 )  

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