Omiya Wind Symphony from Japan and The Philharmonic Winds from Singapore will come together on 24 February, Sunday evening, to present a joint concert at the Victoria Concert Hall.
The collaboration will be conducted by world-renowned Japanese veteran conductor Toshio Akiyama, Omiya’s assistant conductor Akira Takeda and Philharmonic Winds’ Music Director, Dr Leonard Tan.
‘When we first heard that Omiya Wind Symphony was keen to come to Singapore, and was looking for a group to collaborate with, we thought that this would be a good opportunity for a musical exchange. It has been a number of years since we hosted a foreign group, and we felt that Omiya’s status as a well-respected community band throughout Japan would be a good benchmark for us in Singapore,” said Dr Leonard Tan.
Both groups have chosen a set of pieces that reflect the diverse cultures they each represent, while also programming pieces that would help to bridge the cultural divide.
Omiya will be presenting some Japanese favourites, such as an Enka Song Ultimate Medley, and the ever-popular Gelato con Caffe. They will also perform well-known western works such as 76 Trombones and Vilja from ‘The Merry Widow’.
Featured in the concert will be soloist Kaede Akiyama (daughter of Toshio Akiyama), performing the 2nd and last movements of Weber’s Fantasia and Rondo, arranged by J.Snavely. Originally written for clarinet quintet, this work is specially arranged for band and the clarinet.
“Philwinds will join our Japanese friends on stage in the second half to present City of Dreams by Benjamin Yeo – this was in fact a request by Omiya, who have learnt about the piece and are highly interested to perform it with us. Our Music Director Leonard Tan will also lead the combined band in a rendition of Munnaeru Vaaliba by our own Zaidi Sabtu, in bringing more local flavour to the stage. Together, we’ll also be performing classics like the wind transcription of Festive Overture,” said Lionel Lye, Philwinds General Manager.
Also featured in the combined band segment is another work of Benjamin Yeo’s, titled ‘Takeda Lullaby‘, which was commissioned by the Wilson Junior High School in USA.
“The school wanted a piece with a Japanese flavour, and strangely they have asked me, a Singaporean to write the music. I decided to choose this folk song as my material because I have heard the music (Chinese pop version) being played over the radio when I was young. It naturally became one of the most impressionable Japanese songs.
When Takeda Lullaby was first distributed in Japan, Toshio Akiyama reviewed the music for a publisher. It soon became a recommended piece of work to be played. The music was later recommended by another Clinician in a reading session during the Japan Band Clinic 2018. This was how the music become more widely performed in Japan,” Benjamin Yeo said.
Conducting this Sunday’s concert is no stranger to Toshio Akiyama as he has already been to Singapore on several occasions.
“I am very happy to be back in Singapore again, and this time with Omiya Wind Symphony. We are lucky to be performing with The Philharmonic Winds, one of Singapore’s best wind bands in a joint concert. We are very appreciative of Adrian Chiang and his team who has helped us with all the rehearsal and concert arrangements,” said Toshio Akiyama.
“We hope that you will enjoy the concert and the music we perform.”