Seiji Ozawa, a Japanese conductor, was at the helm of some of the world’s leading music institutions, including the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera.
But even at the age of 83, he still finds time to train young talents who will support music for many decades.
“I can’t wait to start conducting!”
For 19 years, the Seiji Ozawa Academy of Music has attracted novice musicians at the age of 20 from Japan and other countries.
Every year the school puts on an opera.
Ozawa believes that one of the main tasks of the school is to familiarize students with the musical form, about which they have relatively few opportunities to learn.
This year will be “Carmen”, and about 70 students took part in rehearsals. They have only three weeks to practice together.
Ozawa was unable to teach at the academy last year. Shortly before the start of classes, he discovered that he had heart disease. But he returned to the podium in March. “I can’t wait any longer to hold a rehearsal,” he said.
He may have recovered, but the maestro is now 83 years old, and he decided to reduce his workload. This year at the academy he conducts only one of the four acts of the opera and leads only the first 15 minutes of each rehearsal.
Meeting the young violinist with the maestro
Ozawa instructs his students with the same passion and precision as before. “The sixteenth note is important,” he says. “Important means not only loudly, but clearly.” He tells students that operas are very different from symphonies and chamber music, and then gives them his subscription instruction: “You have to listen!”
Sayaka Kagey, 21, studies violin at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Sayaka Kagey said the rehearsal was so intense that she felt lost.
“I still rely on the notes in front of me,” Kagey says. “But I really need to figure out how to survive each note. I try my best. ”
Five days before the premiere, Kagey tried a new approach. She did not take her eyes off the soloist.
“I focused on the song as if I was the lead singer,” she says.
“In the last few days I began to understand how I should listen in order to be synchronous. I think in this way I can do what Maestro Ozawa demands.”
At the premiere, the inspired Ozawa begins a loud performance of the famous prelude to Carmen. And the practice paid off for Kagey. She and her fellow musicians maintain perfect synchronicity with vocalists. After the first act, the maestro goes backstage, and is replaced by his longtime friend Christian Arming.
Arming says his old friend is as passionate as ever. “I see how focused Maestro Ozawa is and how important it is for him to bring the message that goes to the basis of music.”
For Sayaka Kagey, this was a learning experience. “I saw all the singers singing with their whole bodies,” she says. “I think we were able to create a feeling of excitement by mixing human voices with the sounds of musical instruments.”
Ozawa was able to join only two of the four operas this year. The conductor tries, but his passion to pass on his knowledge never fades away.