Connect sat down to chat with Tokyo Sinfonia’s founder and conductor Robert Ryker about their difficulties during lockdown, and how they are slowly but surely preparing for their comeback concert in June.
Tokyo Sinfonia is a Tokyo-based orchestra of 19 musicians dedicated to providing artistic classical performances in a friendly environment. Ryker is well known for rescoring rarely played compositions by great composers.
The Covid-19 pandemic gave birth to a “new normal”—work at home. While working at home is not so much of a burden to some businesses, it surely has taken a toll on the music industry.
“We could not rehearse,” Ryker said. Tokyo Sinfonia has resorted to Zoom, but this has been chaotic due to the time delay, which ruins musical synchronization. While live streaming of stay-at-home concerts has been done in many cases, unfortunately, it was not feasible for Tokyo Sinfonia. Simple pieces that don’t require a conductor can be successfully pulled off in a live stream, but for those who are trying to do more complex performances, a face-to-face rehearsal and show is a must.
Ryker also raised concerns about his musicians’ well-being. They missed playing in front of crowds. They missed the quality time interacting with the audience after the post-show champagne. Ryker is compassionate towards his musicians, who have devoted their time and money to their art. “The orchestra was in danger of disappearing,” he sighed.
Russian Romantic Program Revival
In Tokyo, the lockdown was officially lifted on May 25, which has brought a smile to the faces of the members of Tokyo Sinfonia!
They have high hopes of returning to stage in June. They first sent out newsletters about their concert schedule and closely watched announcements from the government as the lockdown was lifted in stages. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that concerts and exhibitions can resume, but the maximum number of visitors must not exceed 100 for indoor events nor 50 percent of the venue’s capacity. These were conditions Tokyo Sinfonia could meet.
Their first post-virus concert is called Rich Russian Romantic. Ryker did not want to go mainstream, so the program will feature the work of Alexander Borodin, whose compositions were among the finest during the Romantic era. The program is certainly going to transport attendees to a more peaceful and tranquil place!
Below is the tentative schedule for the JUNE champagne concert
Romantic Russian Serenade June 17, Oji Hall (Ginza) from 19:00
Music Touches the Heart
Ryker hopes that this concert will touch hearts and uplift people. He wants the audience to close their eyes and absorb the beauty of the music. The concert will help not only the audience but also the musicians who have been waiting for the chance to pick up their instruments and please people.
The world has certainly become more divided while dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. But music can always be a cure that reminds us that we are a family, despite coming from different backgrounds. “Music draws us together,” Ryker said.
Tokyo Sinfonia is offering Connect Members two pairs of complimentary tickets, good for any regular series concert in Oji Hall during the coming six months. Click here to get them for the next concert in June!