The 2009 Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, a popular classical music festival created by world-famous Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa, will take place from August 17–September 9 in Matsumoto, Japan. Set in the foothills of the Japanese Alps, this charming city is known for hosting the festival and for its picturesque views, hot springs, calm climate, and historical attractions such as Matsumoto Castle.
Each year, thousands of classical music lovers are drawn to Matsumoto for the festival, which Mr. Ozawa established in 1992 to pay tribute to his teacher and mentor, the late Hideo Saito, and to acknowledge the influence Professor Saito continues to have on classical music today. The festival grew naturally from the success of the Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO), which Mr. Ozawa founded in 1984 on the 10th anniversary of Professor Saito’s death as a way to carry on his legacy and teachings. The SKO recently appeared at No. 19 on Gramophone magazine’s list of “Best Orchestras in the World,” the only orchestra in Asia to do so.
This year, the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto will celebrate its 18th anniversary with an exciting program of concerts, the centerpiece of which is four performances of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, performed by the Saito Kinen Orchestra, led by Mr. Ozawa, and featuring soprano Christine Goerke and tenor Anthony Dean Griffey. Other highlights include the 14th Toru Takemitsu Memorial Concert on August 22 and the SKO’s performances of Ravel and Brahms, conducted by Mr. Ozawa, on September 4, 6, and 7, featuring mezzo-soprano Susan Graham.
Mr. Ozawa, who is currently the music director of the Vienna State Opera, has devoted his life to continuing the practice and philosophies of Professor Saito, whom he credits for his own artistic development and for fostering classical music training in Japan. To that end, Mr. Ozawa has founded several teaching institutions including the International Music Academy – Switzerland, the Saito Kinen Chamber Music Study Group for Young People, and the Seiji Ozawa Ongaku-juku, comprised of promising young musicians who are given the unique opportunity to perform and learn with world-class professionals. Students from the Chamber Music Study Group will perform during this year’s Saito Kinen Festival during the first half of a program on August 29, followed by a performance by the Saito Kinen Orchestra, all led by noted violinist and conductor Robert Mann.