Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra (HSO) started as “Hiroshima Civic Symphony Orchestra” in 1963. The orchestra was renamed the current name in 1970. Since becoming a professional orchestra in 1972, HSO has been sending the peace message by music as an orchestra in Hiroshima, the International City of Peace and Culture.
Kazukiyo Inoue was appointed the first Permanent Conductor, now Honorary Founding Conductor, in 1964, and the late Tokuji Tagashira was appointed the first Music Director in 1976. The late Akeo Watanabe, an important figure in the Japanese music world, was appointed Music Director and Permanent Conductor in 1984. After that, Ken Takaseki (1986), Yoshikazu Tanaka (1990) and Naohiro Totsuka (1994) were appointed Music Director and Permanent Director, and succeeded the spirit of Watanabe. In 1998, Kazuyoshi Akiyama, one of the best-known conductors in Japan, was appointed Principal Conductor and Music Adviser. He served as Permanent Conductor and Music Director from 2004 to 2016, and appointed Honorary Conductor for Life in April 2017. From 1995 to 2002, Norichika Iimori, Hiroyuki Odano and Kazumasa Watanabe, from 2002 to 2004, Kim Hong Je conducted the orchestra. Ewald Danel and Henrik Schaefer were appointed Principal Guest Conductors from 2008 to 2014. Tatsuya Shimoto was appointed General Music Director, and Christian Arming was appointed Principal Guest Conductor which will be started from April 2017.
In 1991, with the invitation from the United Nations Vienna Office and the Czech government, HSO performed in Vienna and Prague. In 1997, HSO made its 2nd tour abroad and performed in the music festival “Octobre en Normandie” in France. In 2003, HSO performed two extremely successful concerts in St. Petersburg in Russia. In 2005, HSO performed in Seoul, Busan and Daegu in Korea to commemorate Japan-Korea Friendship Year 2005. Through those concerts, HSO has been sending the message of peace and hope towards people in the world.
In 1993, the orchestra had the first concert in Tokyo and Osaka. Since then, the orchestra has regularly performed at “The Festival of Visiting Japanese Orchestras” at Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo.
In 2007, the original label, “PEACE RECORD”, was started and has released “Tchaikovsky: 3 GREAT BALLET SELECTIONS”, “Rachmaninov: Symphony No.2”, “Sibelius: Symphony No.2”, “Dvořák: Symphony No.9, From the New World” and “Dvořák: Slavonic Dances”.
Currently HSO holds approximately 140 concerts annually, including 14 Subscription Concerts in Hiroshima, Kure, Fukuyama, Hatsukaichi and Shimane, Discovery Series Concerts, Masterpiece Concerts, which is co-hosted Hiroshima City, and School Concerts. Since 2001, HSO has been acknowledged by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan as the grant recipient, which supports the chief contributors to the Japanese arts.
HSO also has collaborated with local professional baseball and football team, Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Sanfrecce Hiroshima, to make a contribution to society as a representative of the cultural community in Hiroshima.
In 2012, HSO had the 40th anniversary of becoming a professional, and performed “Messiaen: Turangalîla-Symphonie” to celebrate it. In 2013, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding, numerous special events such as performance of “Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps” and the concerts for 2 days with a world renowned cellist, Mischa Maisky, were held, and HSO gained a great reputation. In August 2015, HSO had “An Evening of Peace Concert” with Martha Argerich in Hiroshima to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. HSO also performed the same program at Suntory Hall in Tokyo for the first time, and that was graced by the presence of Their Majesties the Emperor and Empress of Japan. HSO hereby conferred to Martha Argerich the title of Peace and Music Ambassador of the orchestra, and vowed they would continue to perform for World Peace.
In April 2016, Volkhard Steude, concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, was appointed Music Partner of HSO.
HSO has received several awards such as the Regional Cultural Merit Award, the Hiroshima Culture Award and the Hiroshima Citizen’s Award.
Official website http://hirokyo.or.jp