Hollywood Bowl Orchestra Returns to Japan

From December 28th, 1997 until January 5th, 1998 the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra was in Japan for yet another tour. This was the ensemble's fourth trip to Osaka and Tokyo for New Year's Pops programs under the direction of Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

Rich Capparela of Los Angeles stations Classical 105.1 - KKGO-FM and KGIL-AM 1260/1650 tagged along with the group and filed a series of six weekday reports for the stations. Here is the text of those reports.





KKGO-FM/KGIL-AM - POSTCARDS FROM JAPAN 1997-98
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri
Rich Capparela, December 28, 1997 - January 5, 1998
Monday, December 29th - Rehearsing at Sony Pictures


Hi, Iím Rich Capparela with the first of a series of Postcards from Japan - observations on the current two-city/five-concert tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

This is the fourth tour for the orchestra to Osaka and Tokyo for a series of New Yearís Pops programs. Two things you should know: 1) The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra is NOT another name for the L.A. Philharmonic. They are two separate and distinct groups that both operate under the umbrella of the Philharmonic Association. And the second thing to be aware of is that the New Yearís holiday is Japan is big - REAL big. Itís like Superbowl Sunday - for a solid week. You could lie down in the middle of a major Tokyo street for five minutes without worrying about being run over (Kids, donít try this yourselves. The Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and John Mauceri are professionals).

At rehearsal on Saturday at the MGM/Sony lot in Culver City John Mauceri explained to the orchestra the raison díetre for the music on the planned concerts:

JOHN MAUCERI: ďJust so you have the concept of the program, the first half are just three pieces. One, a tribute to Gershwin whose centenary year weíre about to arrive at. Then Lennieís [Leonard Bernsteinís] 80th birthday year, the same year and the 75th for the Disney organization. So those are the three pieces. So we start with Strike up the Band. Just take it easy this morning - actually take it easy over there too. No fireworks. And Kenny Watson on the bass drum. Itís in two, Ken.Ē

John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. As you hear this report the orchestra members are settling into their hotel rooms in Osaka for a free day, followed by a New Yearís Eve concert at Osakaís Festival Hall. Iíll check in again tomorrow at this same time for another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri. Iím Rich Capparela.




KKGO-FM/KGIL-AM - POSTCARDS FROM JAPAN 1997-98
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri
Rich Capparela, December 28, 1997 - January 5, 1998
Tuesday, December 30th - Japan's New Year Holiday

Hi, I'm Rich Capparela with another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city/five-concert tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

Following a 12-hour United flight from LAX, we have arrived in Osaka, where one's watch must be set ahead 17 hours (I'm not even sure what decade it is at this point, much less what time or day it is in L.A.).

Our first full day in Osaka, Tuesday, is a free day for the group. Many members of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra plan on visiting the nearby historic city of Kyoto. If cities like Osaka and Tokyo are deserted around the turn of the new year, Kyoto (and other important ancestral cities) are where you'll find everybody. Fortunes are told, wood slabs containing wishes for the year just past are ceremoniously burned and the countless centuries-old temples are jammed with throngs of celebrants and tourists alike.

The train to Kyoto costs 400 Yen (about $3.75) and the ride there takes about 3/4 of an hour (that's U.S. minutes).

On Wednesday the orchestra will have a rehearsal at Osaka's Festival Hall, followed by a New Year's Eve concert that starts at 10:15 and doesn't end until sometime next year.

Please drop by again tomorrow at this same time for another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri. I'm Rich Capparela.




KKGO-FM/KGIL-AM - POSTCARDS FROM JAPAN 1997- 98
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri
Rich Capparela, December 28, 1997 - January 5, 1998
Wednesday, December 31st - Perfect Pears

Hi, I'm Rich Capparela with another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city/five-concert tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

Today the orchestra members were scattered throughout the area. Though it was a grey and rainy morning, many visited Kyoto or the closer city of Nara. Having made the trek to Kyoto several times before, a few of us used our free day to explore Osaka itself as the residents finish their New Year's holiday shopping. At the sprawling Hankyu department store it was chaotic and exhilarating. One of the store's basement floors is a colorful food mart. While elbowing one's way through the densely packed crowds one sees exotic desserts, deep-fried-and-battered vegetables, fresher-then-fresh sushi and immaculately groomed fruits - we're talking about a perfect apple, individually wrapped, and costing about $2.75. . . .for one.

The elevators in stores such as Hankyu are also something of a trip. Each elevator has an operator and these operators are always the same: 20-year old women wearing Jackie O' pillbox hats and white gloves. At each floor they announce, in an almost hypnotically sweet voice, what each floor offers, followed by about 30 seconds worth of demure "Thank yous." We are a long way from home.

On our New Year's Day report I'll give you the scoop on the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra's New Year's Eve concert in Osaka.

And I invite you drop by again tomorrow, at this very same time, for another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri. And, from the Land of the Rising Sun, we send you best wishes for the New Year, or as we say in Osaka, Omedeto Gozaimasu. I'm Rich Capparela.




KKGO-FM/KGIL-AM - POSTCARDS FROM JAPAN 1997-98
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri
Rich Capparela, December 28, 1997 - January 5, 1998
Thursday, January 1st - New Year's Eve in Osaka

Hi, I'm Rich Capparela with another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city/five-concert tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

At last the orchestra has done what it came here to do - make music. The afternoon rehearsal was intense: the first half of the concert included the Symphonic Dances from Leonard Bernstein's Westside Story - music that is, rhythmically speaking, pretty daunting. I can't recall ever having seen the orchestra and Mauceri so focused and serious. As it turned out, there was nothing to be worried about.

The New Year's Eve concert began at 10:15 in front of a nearly capacity audience. The Bernstein went just fine, as did the rest of the program, a program celebrating anniversaries and birthdays for the likes of Bernstein, Gershwin and the Walt Disney organization. The seven-member Mitch Hanlon Singers helped out in a Disney Overture, music from Home Alone and Annie.

It was a bit odd to watch the clocks count down to 1998 in Osaka, knowing that, for our family and friends back home in Los Angeles, the New Year was still some seventeen hours away.

As the old year became the new, the music continued until, at last, Mauceri and company got to the final scheduled music on the program. The audience's rhythmic clapping began at 12:20 in the morning. The encores started at 12:22 and ended at 12:44 - and that was only because Mauceri took concertmaster Bruce Dukov by the hand and led him off the stage. By now it is expected that the Osaka audience will like what it hears. What is still surprising is just how intensely the audience members show their pleasure. Now it's off to Tokyo.

Please join us again tomorrow at this same time for another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri. Happy 1998! I'm Rich Capparela.




KKGO-FM/KGIL-AM - POSTCARDS FROM JAPAN 1997-98
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri
Rich Capparela, December 28, 1997 - January 5, 1998
Friday, January 2nd - Things That Make You Go "Hmmm"

Hi, I'm Rich Capparela with another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current two-city/five-concert tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

Thursday was a travel day for the group. Having finished its New Year's Eve Osaka concert well after midnight, the orchestra gathered in the hotel lobby late in the morning, slightly disheveled but satisfied. A quick flight took the group from Osaka to Tokyo for the remaining concerts on this tour.

After four trips it has become obvious to even the most casual observer that this orchestra genuinely enjoys coming to Japan - not just because the players are treated like royalty, but also because the culture is so stimulatingly different. I surveyed several members of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra with the same question: what was the single most "interesting" thing they'd noticed this week?

For violinist Olivia Tsui it was that Osaka seemed to have the largest everything: the largest Buddha, the tallest Ferris wheel and, just the day before, she'd visited the world's biggest aquarium.

For Principal Bassoonist Carole McCallum it was the amenities in her hotel room: amenities including everything from the usual driers and tooth brushes to the more esoteric hair bands and mineral bath pellets.

For the orchestra's other bassoonist, Charles Coker it was the Japanese people's amazing hospitality - noting that asking directions on the street often results in a personal escort.

And finally, violinist Ron Clark's mother Jeanne was most surprised the first time she entered a real Japanese bathroom. (Trust me when I tell you that you don't want to know any more than that.)

Please join us again Monday at this same time for another Postcard from Japan - observations on the current tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri. I'm Rich Capparela.




KKGO-FM/KGIL-AM - POSTCARDS FROM JAPAN 1997-98
Hollywood Bowl Orchestra/John Mauceri
Rich Capparela, December 28, 1997 - January 5, 1998
Monday, January 5th - Ballooning

Hi, I'm Rich Capparela with another Postcard from Japan - observations on the two-city/five-concert tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri.

Today is the day the orchestra returns to LAX via United Airlines, the Official Airline of the Hollywood Bowl. The group gave one concert in Osaka and four more in Tokyo.

A few words about the first Tokyo concert: the audience members in Orchard Hall, Bunkamura were as reticent as I had remembered them: they responded to the orchestra with brief, perfunctory applause. . . .but that only lasted an hour and a half. Somewhere around ninety minutes (not too long before the dropping of multi-colored balloons during the Stars and Stripes Forever, they melted and found themselves tossing balloons onto the stage. John Mauceri was increasingly bombarded with the balloons and started passing them onto the orchestra. Imagine if you will 83 musicians in formal dress bouncing balloons off their bows and instruments.

It all culminated in a dicey moment for concertmaster Bruce Dukov. Violinist Jay Rosen sits directly behind Dukov and, when Dukov began to sit back down at one point, well, Mr. Rosen couldn't resist placing a balloon on Dukov's chair. Dukov caught himself in time - barely. And the audience was whooping it up and giggling like kids who'd seen Johnnie put a thumb tack on teachers's chair. It was a great moment and it caught the spirit of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. The group enjoys itself and that enjoyment is infectious. They are great ambassadors.

And this has been the sixth and final Postcard from Japan - observations on the just-completed two-city tour of Japan by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Principal Conductor John Mauceri. The text of all six reports can be accessed on the World Wide Web at www.netcom.com/~cardiff. That's www.netcom.com/~cardiff. I'm Rich Capparela. Thanks for listening.



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