Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra came to Japan for the first time to perform in four different cities, conducted by young and dynamic maestro Santtu-Matias Rouvali as part of the "Finland 100" event to celebrate the centenary of Finland's independence from Russia.
Their first concert was held at Tokyo Bunka Kaikan in Ueno on May 19th, performing Slibelius and Grieg. 31-year-old Rouvali, Chief Conductor of Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra since 2013, directed the orchestra consisting of 97 musicians with dynamism and elegance. The audience erupted into applause at the end, some waving Finnish flags. Visitors also enjoyed the digital prints of Moomin drawings made by Tove Jansson, including one valuable original drawing that was displayed at the concert venue. Tampere is home to the world's only Moomin Museum that is now being refurbished to be opened this June. Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra is scheduled to perform in Fukuyama, Hamamatsu and Osaka during their one week tour.
A reception was held at the end of their first Tokyo performance, organized by the Finnish Embassy and Finnish Chamber of Commerce in Japan. "Tonight is a special evening to celebrate Finland's 100 years of Independence. It not only started with our national composer Jean Sibelius' famous Finlandia; it was performed by Tampere Filhamonia, located in a city that is close to my heart," commented Jukka Siukosaari, Ambassador of Finland in Tokyo. Representatives and friends of FCCJ and the Embassy filled the venue, where they also got to see "360 degrees video" of the orchestra's rehearsal taken by Nokia's OZO Virtual Reality Camera. Nokia also recorded the actual performance of Finlandia, which will become available online.
The talk of the day was of course, conductor Rouvali who appeared at the reception to greet the guests. "He was a like an artist who painted music to a wide canvas," praised one. "It was almost like he was dancing, full of movement and elegance to the tip of his fingers," marveled another. "Santtu-Matias, who is also talented as a percussionist, has a unique style of conducting. It looks as if he's dancing with big movement, but he's consistently showing steady rhythm and pace somewhere with his body, so the orchestra members can relax and concentrate in their performance," says Yuri Nitta, Japanese conductor who has performed with the then 15-year-old Rouvali as a percussionist in Lahti. "There are many Finnish conductors who go abroad while they're still young, yet all have different styles. This might be the fruit of Finnish education where individuality is valued, and the students' original ways of thinking are materialized. "