Freaking amazing evening

The Beethoven “Freude” concert tonight, with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra performing Beethoven’s Egmont and 9th Symphony, the latter with a chorus made up of Miyoshi-shi residents…sublime. Such an awesome experience! It’s been so long since I’ve seen a good orchestra perform (we saw that one in Tokyo, the Japan Gewandhaus Orchestra, and I would strongly NOT recommend them)–my last good symphony concert was probably last May in Atlanta. Ben and Julia and I saw a really awesome solo cello concert in Anan, but that was a soloist. This was a real orchestra. In freaking Ikeda, of all places. And the chorus, comprised almost completely of non-professional musicians, did an amazing job. I got to congratulate my junior high music teacher on a job well done–she helped to coordinate it and participated as a soprano. I also ran into a bunch of people I knew–eikaiwa students, junior high students, random members of the community who I’ve run into, and even some of Ellie‘s friends I met at the enkai she threw for her parents. It was a great community event, good music, good spirits…just good, good times.

The best part: we unwittingly got in for free. (Shhh!) I tried to explain to the people at the door that I was a kouminkan staffer and that they were holding 2 tickets for us, but they just waved Joe and me in (Joe had bought 2 tickets at the door for Jordan and Saori, who got there a bit late, and they reimbursed him, so he got in free as well), and Julie scored a free ticket from her school.

It made me really miss performing with symphony groups like that, and seeing them perform and even just tune brought back a lot of nostalgia and warm memories of my time with my university orchestra. I hope that the new batch of ALTs brings some classical musicians out west, so we can get together and play some music a few times. Definitely not the same as a symphonic experience, with being on stage and feeling all your hard work mesh under the lights and the attention of the audience, and feeling the piece just click (well, that was the tendency with the Georgia Tech Symphony Orchestra–it always came together on stage, even if it faltered at the dress rehearsal/runthrough just hours before the show).

Afterwards, the 5 of us (Joe, Julie, Jordan, Saori, and myself) headed to Mikamo to avoid the crowds in Ikeda and had dinner at Prison, an izakaya. We were seated in one of the karaoke rooms, and I got to rock out to “Dreams” by The Cranberries, and my throat’s suffering for it now, but it’s cool to know I can still do it. We also indulged in some Paula Abdul and our usual mix of J-Pop and old-school goodness.

My plans for my week at home are slowly coming together. Terry, a former Big Computer Company coworker and now a really close friend, wants to make me dinner on Monday (possibly with our former-coworker-and-awesome-friend Ryan as well?), and I’m hoping to meet up with Caroline and other friends from my web production studio job, as well as my (unofficial) STAC advisor and a couple of STAC alums from Tech and the orchestra dinner group alums who are around. I also just heard this evening that my friend Miles from the GTSO is coming into town the Friday before I head back to Japan, so we want to try to meet up that evening if at all possible. At least one of The Indian Families wants to stop by and say hi as well. It was so weird, standing in line outside the Sogo Taikan today and realizing that in exactly 2 weeks, I would be boarding my flight to the states. I think I’ll be more than halfway there by this point, 2 weeks from now, and that’s really an exhilarating thought, that it’s so close.

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