Gunma Symphony Orchestra in impromptu encore due to Rishiri ferry cancelation

A resident of Rishiri takes part in a hands-on conducting class at the concert held at short notice. November 27, Rishiri Municipal Cultural Exchange and Promotion Facility, Donto

The Gunma Symphony Orchestra (Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture), known as a pioneer among regional orchestras, held a free, impromptu concert in the town of Rishiri on the island of Rishiri in northern Hokkaido. After performing for students from three elementary and junior high schools, the ferry that the orchestra was due to take back to Wakkanai was cancelled because of a storm. However, a nice touch in taking advantage of the available schedule meant that the warm, beautiful tones resonated in the hearts of the townspeople.

The performance for elementary and junior high school students was held on November 26 at the town’s cultural exchange and promotion facility, Donto. The orchestra performed classical pieces such as The March of the Swiss Soldiers from the William Tell Overture, as well as the school songs from each of the three Kutsugata Elementary, Senposhi Elementary and Rishiri Junior High schools, watched by a total of approximately 140 students and teachers, who sang along at the lively venue.

The towns people did not expect the musical gift that was brought about by the cancellation of the ferry. “For some people, it may have been the only opportunity during their life to listen to professionals perform.” The impromptu concert was held after all the members of the orchestra responded to the calls of other members to make it happen.

The following day, on November 27, a free concert was held at the same venue. Dressed in cardigans and T-shirts, a change from the suits they had worn the previous day, the orchestra performed 10 pieces, including classical music and the Japanese enka song ‘Kitasakaba,’ to the delight of 140 townspeople.

A hands-on conducting class was also held between the performances, and a woman who participated in the event said “I was surprised that the speed of the music changed with the speed of conducting. It’s a memory that will last a lifetime.”

The orchestra visited the island as part of the Cultural Affairs Agency’s ‘Comprehensive Project for Nurturing Children through Culture and Art,’ but its refined music charmed the adults, too. Members of the orchestra expressed their gratitude to the people of the town, saying “We didn’t expect so many people to turn up given the short notice. I’m sure they will never forget it.”


Rishiri Municipal Cultural Exchange and Promotion Facility, Donto