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HIROSHIMA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
Music Director Tatsuya Shimono Principal guest conductor Christian Arming
Honorary Founding Conductor Kazuyoshi AKIYAMA Music Partner Volkhard Steude
Honorary Founding Conductor Kazukiyo Inoue Honorary Music Director Akeo Watanabe
Conposer in Residence Toshio Hosokawa
Honorary Founding Conductor Martha Argerich
Concertmaster Soichi Sakuma Concert mistress Rumi Kurakawa
Akeo Watanabe / Honorary Music Director
Akeo Watanabe, Honorary Music Director
Born in Tokyo on June 5, 1919, Akeo Watanabe entered the Department of Instrumental Music of the Tokyo Music School (the predecessor of the present Faculty of Music of Tokyo University of the Arts) in 1935. He conducted the Tokyo Metropolitan Philharmonic Orchestra (currently the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra) from 1945 to 1946 and served as the first Permanent Conductor of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra from 1948 to 1954. He studied conducting at the Juilliard School in the U.S. from 1950 to 1952.
On June 22, 1956, the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra was founded. Watanabe participated in its establishment and served concurrently as Music Director, Permanent Conductor, and Executive Director of the orchestra until 1968. He created a great sensation in the music world in Japan at that time, broadening a repertoire of music that had focused only on German- and Austrian-style music and pursuing a novel music style. He also started the “Japan Phil Series,” a program entrusting Japanese composers to compose music and to give premiere performances of their works. In 1964, he successfully performed 34 concerts in 31 cities in North America as the conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. In 1969, he moved to Switzerland and acted as a guest conductor in various parts of Europe. After returning to the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra in 1978, he was energetically involved in music activities for six years, including the recording of all Sibelius’s symphonies. In April 1984, he was granted the title of Founding Conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. From May 1984 to March 1986, he served as the second Music Director of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra. In 1985, he successfully carried out a 51-day concert tour in nine countries in Europe, serving as the conductor of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra together with Kenichiro Kobayashi.
In November 1987, Watanabe returned to the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra as Music Director in response to a strong appeal from all of its members. In June 1989, a concert to celebrate his 70th birthday was held by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra. On June 22, 1990, he passed away.
He was awarded many prizes, including the Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, the Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland, and the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters of France as well as the Japan Art Academy Prize, the Mainichi Art Award, the Record Academy Award, and the Mobil Music Prize in Japan. He served as Founding Conductor and Music Director of the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Honorary Conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Honorary Music Director of the Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra, Music Director of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, Professor Emeritus of Tokyo University of the Arts, Professor Emeritus of Sakuyo Music University (currently Kurashiki Sakuyo University), President of the Sibelius Society of Japan, and President of Star Dancers Ballet. Chosen as a member of the Japan Art Academy in 1978, he maintained energetic activities as a leading figure in music circles in Japan. On July 6, 1990, he was granted the Jushii (Junior Fourth-Rank Chamberlain) and the Third Class of the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon.

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