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Ensemble

Liszt at lunchtime

Eri Niiyama gives a recital in Tokyo's Suntory Hall,
and KEITH BRAMICH listens

 

It could well be true that classical music is gradually sinking into decadence, although some parts of the globe seem to be resisting this sad change. On 14 November 2002, thirty minutes before the announced start of a lunchtime organ recital in Tokyo's Suntory Hall, a large crowd was queueing from the main doors of the hall, across the pleasant Ark Hills shopping arcade and out of sight. About fifteen minutes before the doors opened, officials from the hall began to muster their potential audience into a more orderly queue, exactly four persons wide, and by the time they'd finished, this wider queue still stretched out of sight.

Audience queueing for Eri Niiyama's organ recital at Suntory Hall. Photos © 2002 Keith Bramich
Audience queueing for Eri Niiyama's organ recital at Suntory Hall. Photos © 2002 Keith Bramich

About five minutes before the start time of Eri Niiyama's recital in the Daikin Daylight Concert Series, different officials moved into place with bins full of advertising material about future concerts, each packet wrapped tidily in plastic, and a packet was presented to each person on entering the hall -- the model of efficiency.

Suntory Hall (left) and Herbert von Karajan Platz. Photo © 2002 Keith Bramich
Suntory Hall (left) and Herbert von Karajan Platz. Photo © 2002 Keith Bramich

Suntory Hall, just sixteen years old, but Japan's best known concert hall, is provided as one of three generous public services by a large drinks company -- you'll see the name Suntory all over the country in the drink vending machines on nearly every street corner. The music chime (with organ pipes) above the hall's main entrance, announcing the opening of the hall for concerts, was unfortunately not in use on this occasion.

The music chime with organ pipes above Suntory Hall's main entrance. Photo © Suntory Ltd
The music chime with organ pipes above Suntory Hall's main entrance. Photo © Suntory Ltd

 

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Copyright © 29 November 2002 Keith Bramich, Worcestershire, UK

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