On August 27 2008, there was a performance by the Chuo Neighborhood Ninth Club at the Kabuki Theatre. So you’re probably all thinking things like. “Beethoven’s Ninth at the Kabuki theatre!?”, “The ninth again?” and “What’s the occasion?”
Well actually this all started seventy years ago. The first Japanese year’s end performance of Beethoven’s hymn to nature, the Ninth Symphony, was in 1939. We founded the “Chuo Neighborhood for the Ninth Club” the year before last in December with the idea of doing a 70th anniversary performance of Beethoven’s Ninth at the KabukiZa. We also started practicing.
Both my husband and son were part of the choir. My husband, who was also involved with organizing the club, began to work on his bass vocals. From the start, the sopranos and altos were in high spirits but for the tenor and bass group things were a bit lonely. That’s when he remembered how much our son liked singing in the Keika Elementray School Choir that was conducted by Professor Fuji and asked him if he didn’t want to come sing with him.
From the start
setting up practice times was no simple matter. We were years away from the
habits of elementary school scheduling. Both my husband and son work, and
cancellations by one, the other or both piled up as we headed towards
performance. Somewhere along the way, however fragile their diligence may have
been, these on-going relations between father and son had drawn them close
One reason for
this was that they were both gathered together around a good conductor and
then, certainly another reason was that now that they were both adults, they
had this chance to share a common goal. At full rehearsals, both father and son
got a chance to fully appreciate the fullness of each other’s bass singing. For
my husband whose contacts with his son had dwindled since so long ago, the
chance to work with him was a great joy, even down to the chorus leader’s “So
Takamatsu didn’t show up for the last rehearsal” which came promptly back to
the father every time the son missed practice.
Tickets for this once in a lifetime event were available by advance purchase to chorus members but only during a single day. Of course, both the father and the son completely forgot. That left regular advance purchase, but right down to the last day, with everyone in the family at work, we’d about resigned ourselves, all seven of us, to lining up outside the theatre on performance day, when finally a savior arrived. My son’s best friend was able to reserve seats in the second balcony by Internet.
Then finally it was the big day. We packed lunch boxes and tea and set out for the theatre. Looking down from the upper left balcony, the orchestra seats were totally out of view and we could only see the fifth row of the chorus. By stretching our necks, we got a cramped look at the sixth row, even worse than we’d expected. I was able to get a clear view of my son’s stalwart chest through the third movement when everyone stood up and he was eclipsed from the immediate stage. As for my husband, in the fifth row, we could see everything from the nose up. Up in the second balcony, our group of family and friends were hilarious with laughter, but followed the 70th year KabukiZa performance of the Ninth Symphony with all our hearts, trusting to our ears more than our eyes.