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A new milestone for the ACO in Japan

Australian Chamber Orchestra to perform one night only at Tokyo’s Kioi Hall

The Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO) will perform at Kioi Hall in Tokyo on Tuesday 10 October 2023, becoming the only orchestra other than their resident orchestra — the Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra (KCO) — to be presented by the Hall’s parent company, Nippon Steel. It follows ACO Artistic Director Richard Tognetti’s successful debut as the first Australian guest conductor and Lead Violin of the KCO this July.


While the ACO have performed in Japan since the late ‘90s, gaining recognition within its notoriously conservative classical music world is difficult. Both its chamber orchestra size, and non-European nationality, present significant challenges for the ACO in breaking into Japan’s classical music scene. 


The performance, which was planned for 2020 but delayed due to COVID-19, is a culmination of the ACO’s long-running relationship with Kioi Hall, with Tognetti naming the KCO their ‘sister orchestra’.


Appointed Artistic Director of the ACO in 1990, Tognetti’s relationship with Japan originates in one of his earliest Violin teachers, Hiroko Sawa, a Suzuki violin instructor and the wife of William Primrose. Tognetti recalls: “I had this incredible connection to Japan through Hiroko-sensei …from an early age I was in contact with many Japanese people – that was my Japan connection.”


Since then Tognetti has returned to Japan many times, both personally and professionally.

“Some of my most memorable performances have been in Japan,” says Tognetti. “The only thing that we calibrate is that we eschew the notion of ‘showmanship’. I would like to imbibe myself more in the spirit of Japan and program accordingly.”


Satu Vanska, Lead Violin of the ACO and Tognetti’s wife, shares this special connection to Japan, which is her childhood home. 


“I was born there, grew up there,” she says. “I have many homes – but Japan is the one to which I most consistently return.”


Japanese violinist Aiko Goto is the ACO’s third significant connection to Japan. Goto has been a member of the ACO since 1990 and also plays with the esteemed Saiko Kinen Orchestra during the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival every August and September. 


According to ArtsPeople’s Kathryn Hunyor, who works as the ACO’s Japan market development consultant, “Few people realise the extent of the special connections between the ACO and the KCO, underpinned by a strong diplomatic and economic relationship between Australia and Japan.”

“In addition to ACO’s Japan connections, there are several key personnel within Kioi Hall management who have lived in Australia (Tognetti’s hometown of Wollongong in fact!), individual musicians who have played as guests with the ACO, and a large number of KCO musicians who either went to the same Japanese music college (Toho Gakuen) or postgraduate course (Julliard, NY) as ACO’s Japanese violinist Aiko Goto.” 


The ACO owes this incredible opportunity to this intricate web of relationships, and Kioi Hall’s determination to present the orchestra themselves.


To make the most of it, the ACO will present an innovative and challenging program designed by Tognetti in consultation with the Kioi Hall producers. The program brings together two accounts of the Kreutzer story: the string quartet by Leoš Janáček, and the Violin Sonata by Beethoven. Both of these are performed in groundbreaking arrangements by Tognetti, which bring to life the colour and drama of the music. Music by Pavel Haas, a student of Janáček, completes the program: his extraordinary string quartet ‘From the Monkey Mountains’, again performed in an arrangement for string orchestra.


Tickets are on sale now for this one-night-only opportunity.
Purchase through this link.


Also check out the ACO’s special Japan release CD, Japanese-language webpage, and ACO Japan-fan Instagram account.


For more information about the ACO in Japan please email or contact us on social media.

For general information about the ACO visit

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