Hope glimmers: One orchestra returns to work

Hope glimmers: One orchestra returns to work


norman lebrecht

March 20, 2020

The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra has received Government clearance to perform again tomorrow.

The Tokyo Symphony Orchestra has been discussing the new coronavirus infectious disease while closely watching the announcement of the government’s basic policy and other information. Based on the opinions of the expert panel of the government, etc., under the guidance of a physician, after implementing measures to prevent infection at the maximum and prevent spread, the “ March 21 Tokyo Opera City Series 113th ” Will be held. If you plan to visit the venue, please take care to prevent infectious diseases on your own, such as “frequent hand washing / hand disinfection” and “cough etiquette”.




  • John Daszak says:

    This is fantastic news for everyone in our fragile business… There is a light at the end of the tunnel ❤️

    • John Borstlap says:

      Yes, but for the West it is a quite long tunnel, all the way to Tokyo.

    • Mr. Schwa says:

      Great news!! Now we can spread Covid-19 around even more than before !! What mind-boggling stupidity: an orchestra getting together when people have been warned to stay apart. Should we really take such risks just so we can listen to a Japanese orchestra play a Rossini overture?? Advice: Listen to a recording and stay healthy.

  • Monsoon says:

    This seems like the kind of undue risk that the U.S. would take, not Japan.

    I suspect this is part of a larger government campaign to claim as is well so that they can move forward with the Olympics.

    • Larry D says:

      I am worried about the attitude many are taking in Japan, since my dear friend works there and her corporation (which I will not name, but a clue is they developed the compact disc) has been reluctant to allow people to work from home since they fear industrial espionage! The most they have done so far is force people to attend a FIVE HOUR SEMINAR (some social distancing!) about possible teleworking in the future. Yes, I too suspect this foot-dragging to be connected to avoiding bad PR for the Olympics. Having been to Suntory Hall and enjoyed the Tokyo Symphony, I wish them all the best, but at the same time I am glad my friend has zero interest in classical music.

      • Larry D says:

        I would like to amend my outrage somewhat. It has been clarified that said seminar was online, and not a matter of people jammed in a physical room breathing on their neighbors. Still, I think this is outrageous foot dragging.

  • EPBiggs says:

    It is not hope. It is irresponsible, likely political. Even if reported infections are going down in Japan, they aren’t gone. Exposing people in groups will just incite a second wave. An orchestra sits close together, breathes hard, sweats, people inadvertently touch. An orchestra is a petrie dish. Yes, the threatened Olympics are probably at the bottom of this. Shame on them.

    • Karl says:

      It’s their country. Let them do what they want. They shut their schools before any other nation and that may have helped. Bowing as a greeting instead of shaking hands has probably helped too.

    • Tamino says:

      Virology and Epidemiology are subjects best left to experts, which I’m sure the Japanese have. Particularly looking at their good numbers in proximity to ground zero China.
      Why almost every layman, including you, thinks they are experts in this is beyond me.
      I respect your fear though.
      But fear is not synonymous to knowledge.

  • Michael Güttler says:

    Fantastic news !!!

  • Karl says:

    For some reason it has not hit Japan that badly. “…as of March 18, Japan has only had a few more than 900 confirmed cases.”

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Perhaps people with unexpected free time should read this:


    • Tamino says:

      disaster without precedent? what selfish hyperbole.
      worse than WWII and the holocaust?
      worse than the Spanish flu?
      Worse then the 30-year war in Germany that killed 1/3 of the population?
      Worse than the plague, that killed 1/3 of the European population?

      Get real.

  • Will says:

    Customarily they don’t shake hands, avoid physical contact… perhaps part of the reason why the spread has been much slower? Also has one of the highest per capita rates of hospital beds in the world too so in a better position to respond if necessary too…

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Have you ever ridden a Tokyo subway? I have. It’s the most contact you can have with a group of humans while wearing clothing.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    I myself would not go, even if they were to reopen everything in the next month or so. It would be a personal decision. In the end the enforced shut downs are not tenable for a crisis that will continue for months. Everyone should make their own decisions & no member of an ensemble should be forced to take part against their wish. It is true that individual life is important, but so is the life of the collective, which includes future generations. We cannot destroy everything ,force people into unemployment and financial ruin, in order to save individual lives.There must be a balance.

    • M. L. Liu says:

      Agreed. I am very saddened by the unimginable havoc wreaked by COVID-19 initially in China and now in Italy, but life in prolonged enforced isolation is … well, perhaps not worth living.

  • M. L. Liu says:

    This is a bold move indeed.

    I am in California and we are in total lock-down now. I do see this announcement as good news, and everyone involved has my best wishes. Knowing how hard-hit the concert business has been, I am sympathetic.

    Today there is a Bloomberg article posted on Japan Times, titled “Japan was expecting a coronavirus explosion. Where is it?” https://bit.ly/3a7qnwJ , which says, in part: “Japan has imposed no lockdown. While there have been disruptions caused by school closures, life continues as normal for much of the population. Tokyo rush-hour trains are still packed and restaurants remain open.”


  • Robert Rÿker says:

    The Tokyo Sinfonia and I wish the Tokyo Symphony and its followers and supporters every success. Our small (!) audience loved what we did this week in Oji Hall. Amid all of thge chaos and confusion, let us do everything we can to keep on inspiring people.

  • Musiclover says:

    Japanese government must be desperate for the Olympics!
    Also, they conduct the test only to small number of people intentionally to minimize the number of coronavirus cases.

    Read this:


  • K says:

    I applaud the TSO for wanting to get back to work, but this seems premature. It seems that most infectious disease experts are concerned about multiple outbreaks spread out over the next 12-18 months. Since it appears that the first wave of this has not even passed, is it prudent to put the musicians, staff and audience at risk so soon?

  • M. L. Liu says:

    UPDATE on the decision of Tokyo Symphony Orchestra to carry out their Mar 21 regular concert —

    Amid mixed reactions to the decision, the performance took place.
    The orchestra is proceeding with its next performance on March 28. However, “The invitation to 3 foreign soloists has been dropped” and a children’s choir is being substituted by a soprano. http://tokyosymphony.jp/pc/news/news_4288.html

    As an advocate for the fragile classical music business, I applaud the gutsy move taken with intelligent precaution.

    BTW schools in Japan are reopening at the beginning of next month.