John Axelrod
(c) D.Vass

American conductor John Axelrod, found himself in the right place at the right time: In November 2021, Japan closed its international borders in an attempt to limit the spread of the Omicron variant. Fortunately, John Axelrod was already in the country, fully vaccinated and out of quarantine, ready for planned performances with the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra and the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, where he is the Principal Guest Conductor, and the only titled American conductor in Japan.

Tokyo’s three major orchestras: the NHK Symphony Orchestra, Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra had a dilemma on their hands. With other top international conductors all due to conduct in Tokyo in the coming month and now unable to enter the country, how were the orchestras to proceed? In Axelrod they found their conductor. As he had to stay in Japan to fulfill his obligations with the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra at the end of January, Axelrod was among the handful of foreign nationals with the required profile to ensure confidence and quality.

Already well-known and trusted at the podium in Japan, having enjoyed a 12-year history of collaboration with the NHK Symphony Orchestra, as well as having served as the Principal Conductor of the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Axelrod also has an astonishing range of repertoire after 25 years of experience conducting some of the best orchestras around the world.

So, here is John Axelrod’s extraordinary Japan Journey:

After concerts with the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, the Hyogo Performing Arts Center Orchestra, the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Hall), the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra, he will conduct the NHK again at the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater (Brahms’ Third Symphony and the Bruch Violin Concerto with Mone Hattori), at Suntory Hall on 26- 27January (Prokofiev’s’ Fifth Symphony and Third PIano Concerto with Takahiro Yoshikawa and Khatchaturian Waltz from Masquerade), and the

City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra (Shizuoka) 28 – 29 January (Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony, Polonaise from the opera Eugene Onegin and 1st Piano Concerto with Yukio Yokoyama) as well as in the

Kyoto Concert Hall on 31 January with DVD /Television Filming in a diverse repertoire for young audiences.

Finally he will conduct the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (Suntory Hall) on 11 February in Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony and the Glazunov Violin Concerto with Coco Tomita.

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