Since 2008, UBE has been inviting the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra to Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where the company was founded, to hold a concert of classical music with a full orchestra. The goal is to contribute to the development of local culture through music based on UBE’s founding principle of harmonious coexistence.
16th UBE Classical Concert
UBE Classical Concert
- The concert features an original program planned and run by employees of UBE Corporation.
- All proceeds from concert admission fees (totaling approximately 30 million yen) are donated to improve local music culture.
- In conjunction with this concert, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra will also hold a friendship concert at a hospital in Ube City and a free music clinic and mini concert for the brass band clubs of junior high schools in Ube City.
- Continuing safely even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the concert series has been carefully managed and, inspired by the motto, “Together with the People, Together with Music,” has been nurtured over many years into one of the community’s most beloved events.
History of UBE Classical Concert
|1st concert (2008)||As a social contribution activity for the local community, the company began holding the UBE Group Charity Concert at the Ube City Watanabe Memorial Hall, which was built to commemorate the achievements of UBE’s founder, Sukesaku Watanabe, and has hosted performances by many famous musicians in Japan and from around the world. It was first held as a summer family concert for children, but since most of the audience were adults, the company decided to hold it as an autumn classical concert from the following year.|
|2nd – 9th concerts||The original Composer Series programs were presented.|
|4th concert (2011)||Elementary and junior high school students were invited free of charge to the dress rehearsal. This was continued thereafter until 9th concert and changed to invitations to main performances, etc., from the 10th concert onward.|
|5th concert (2012)||Hearing-impaired people were invited to the dress rehearsal, and body sonics were used. This was continued thereafter.|
|10th concert (2017)||Premium events were held to commemorate 10th anniversary of the concert. Participants were selected by lottery from among those who had purchased tickets for the concert. The events were: (1) 60 people invited to an orchestra talk and instrument hands-on experience, (2) 100 people invited to observe the dress rehearsal, and (3) approximately 100 junior high school students in Ube City invited free of charge to the main performance (the invitation was changed from the dress rehearsal to the main performance).|
|11th concert (2018)||The company continued to invite about 100 junior high school students in Ube City to the main performance free of charge.|
|12th concert (2019)||The soloist signed autographs.|
|13th concert (2020)||The concert was held with thorough measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 (e.g., by holding two performances per day with only 20% of the seating capacity filled).|
|14th concert (2021)||The concert was held with thorough measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 (e.g., by filling only 50% of the seating capacity).|
|15th concert (2022)||
Music clinic and mini-concerts
On the day before the UBE Classical Concert, instructors from the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra are invited to conduct a music clinic, in which they instruct brass band students on their instruments. They also give a mini concert by themselves and a joint concert with junior high school students. These events are held in classrooms and gymnasiums at junior high schools in Ube City. They are organized by the Watanabe Memorial Culture Association with the cooperation of UBE Corporation. In 2020 and 2021, the music clinics were changed to a remote* format to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Face-to-face instruction allows the instructors to check the sound and condition of the instruments while remote instruction has the advantage of being able to tailor the instruction to each individual’s challenges. UBE is cooperating fully in the organization of these events associated with the UBE Classical Concert, including the use of its human capital.
*One-on-one lessons using the online conferencing tool Zoom
Comments from students
- I am glad that I was able to play beautifully in the joint performance after the clinic because I learned better how to produce sound and how to play musically. (Horn, 2nd year junior high school student)
- I had never been able to produce high notes, but after being taught, I was able to do it for the first time. I am very satisfied. (Trumpet, 1st year junior high school student)
The 10th UBE Classical Concert — Commemorative Concert
The conductor for 2017 concert, the 10th anniversary concert, was Sachio Fujioka, who wielded the baton for the second time in four years. The soloist was Ayako Uehara, a talented pianist who won the first prize in the piano section of the 12th International Tchaikovsky Competition. She performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E minor, Op. 64. At the beginning of the concert, Mr. Fujioka, the conductor, provided musical commentary and introduced Ms. Uehara. Ms. Hiromi Shoji of Libertas Ube, Ltd. served as sign language interpreter. Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 was the most requested piece on the previous year’s visitor questionnaire. This piece was also in the news when figure skater Mao Asada used it in her free program at the Sochi Olympics.
This masterpiece is known as a difficult piano piece, but Ms. Uehara played it with overwhelming technical mastery and an intense touch as if she were possessed by something. With the dazzling beauty of the high notes and a thrilling and earnest battle with the orchestra, it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime performance.
On this occasion, Ms. Uehara gave an encore, which is unusual for a soloist. The encore piece was Tchaikovsky’s Méditation. It was a time to be entranced by the solo piano performance.
After a 20-minute intermission, the second half was Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5. Mr. Fujioka said, “I am happy to perform the No. 5 for the first time with the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. The Japan Philharmonic’s dynamic sound makes it the best orchestra in Japan for Russian music.” Just as he had said, the performance was dynamic, full of grandeur and intonation. Regarding the fourth movement in particular, Mr. Fujioka declared, “I hope the performance will be something out of the ordinary, as if the devil himself were in the music,” and true to his word, the piece came to a grand conclusion with an unearthly sound.
The encore was the second movement Waltz from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings. The enchanting rhythm was intoxicating, as if it had cast a spell on the audience.
To commemorate the 10th concert, two premium events were held on the same day before the main performance: (1) an orchestra talk and instrument hands-on experience, and (2) a dress rehearsal observation.
(1) The orchestra talk and instrument hands-on experience was attended by 35 people. Japan Philharmonic Executive Director and viola player Yuji Goto gave an interesting explanation of the orchestra’s composition and how the instruments work. The hands-on experience with musical instruments was a lot of fun, as some participants were delighted with the feeling of playing a violin for the first time.
(2) For the dress rehearsal observation, 100 lottery winners and 30 children with disabilities from Ube General Special Needs School and other special-needs schools (including their guardians and accompanying adults) were invited to observe the final rehearsal before the performance. Once again, for the benefit of the hearing-impaired, five seats with a sensory sound system were prepared for use during the dress rehearsal and the main performance with the cooperation of Pioneer Corporation and Libertas Ube, Ltd.
Friendship concerts were held at Yamaguchi University Hospital and Ube-kohsan Central Hospital on the day before the main performance. Previously, the friendship concerts featured a string quartet (two violins, viola, and cello), but for the first time, the audience enjoyed a woodwind quintet (flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and horn). In addition, the Tanpopo Concert was also held at the Ube-kohsan Central Hospital in order to allow the general public as well as patients to attend. The concert was fully attended, drawing 130 people. On the same day, a community concert was held at Higashikiwa Junior High School as part of a project of the Watanabe Memorial Culture Association (whose representative director at the time was Michio Takeshita). The concert featured eight members of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and junior high school students from Ube City (Higashikiwa Jr. High, Nishikiwa Jr. High, and Konan Jr. High).
The first part, a music clinic, was attended by 118 brass band club members from three junior high schools in the city. Divided into trumpet, trombone, horn, tuba, clarinet, flute, and percussion classes, the students were warmly instructed on their individual instruments by members of the Japan Philharmonic.
The second part was a mini-concert open to the public. The Japan Philharmonic Orchestra gave a brass quintet performance as well as a joint performance with junior high school students. The piece for the joint performance had previously been The High School Cadets, but this was the first time it was changed to Ghibli Songs. The 330 audience members applauded loudly.