The Pasadena Master Chorale would say that the entertainment is far from over. Sunday, January 9th, PMC joins with the L.A. Daiku to perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.
From the PMC press release, some fascinating facts:
“In Japan, the word ‘daiku’ or ‘the great nine’ refers solely to Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9,” PMC artistic director Jeffrey Bernstein explains. “The tradition of singing the ninth is huge in Japan because that is where the work was first heard in Asia. In 1918, German prisoners held in the Japanese town of Naruto mounted a crude performance of it to keep their spirits up. It instantly caught fire with the guards and townspeople and spread throughout the nation.”
Today, the work is performed hundreds of times annually—not only in Naruto, to commemorate the 9th’s Japanese debut, but often in stadiums with massed choirs of thousands of singers. In 2009, the Los Angeles Daiku was founded to bring this tradition to the United States.
“Our goal is to build a bridge of musical friendship between the U.S. and Japan,” says Bernstein who, last June, became the first American to conduct the Naruto performance with 800 performers on stage. “For instance, this year, roughly 20 singers from Naruto will travel here to join us for the performance, including Mari Kumasaka who sang the work with me in June. Members of the San Francisco Daiku will join us as well.”
Bernstein is also pleased that, this year, for the first time, the concert will take place in the heart of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo.
The Aratani Theater is a fitting venue, too, for the U.S. premiere of Bernstein’s work, Dreams of Japan. “It’s a paean to Japan, a token of my affection,” says Bernstein, who was commissioned to write the work for the All-Japan Federation Daiku and the Tokushima Orchestra in honor of the 32nd Annual Daiku in Naruto. “The style of the piece was informed equally by traditional Japanese music and by film music, the salient Western music of our time.”
Adds Bernstein, “Beethoven was never far from my mind as I wrote Dreams of Japan, which was inspired by Katsushika Hokusai’s ‘Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.’ To paint an imagined view of the floating kingdom, I found myself calling upon the same orchestral forces as Beethoven did – but with the addition of a taiko drum! I think Beethoven would like that.”
Beethoven’s 9th & PMC’s Jeffrey Bernstein’s Dreams of Japan
Sunday, Jan. 12th, 5 p.m.
244 S. San Pedro St., L.A. 90012
Cost: $25, purchase here
For more info, visit PasadenaMasterChorale.org or call 626.208.0009