Today was a very exciting yet emotional day. Today would be two performances at two different venues and also our last time playing together as this touring orchestra.
We had our last birthday breakfast too with Matthew turning 16! He, of course, got put on a chair while we sang and cheered and he received a wonderful waffle birthday cake.
Then we packed the buses to head to our first performance at Gakuin High School, who so kindly provided us a huge lunch. After socialising and getting fed we were treated to a Kendo demonstration filled with lots of shouting.
After that experience, it was time for a short rehearsal. Our afternoon concert was fantastic. It is safe to say we blew the socks off the audience. We were hosted and privileged to have the company of the Japan Scotland Society – who were so generous in the organising of our tour to Japan originally. A teacher from the school named Spencer was delighted to have us over for a concert as he was originally from Dreghorn. At the end of our performance, he made an emotional speech, saying that today was the best day at work ever and how he felt like we had brought ‘home’ to him with our music. Playing with us during this performance was the Tokyo Pipe Band who were absolutely incredible to watch and to play with for a couple of joint pieces.
After this great concert, it was time for a ceilidh with the Japan Scotland Association, some of the high school students, staff and members of the public. We had a lot of fun organising the dancing but we did have a group of country dancers in our ceilidh so it was a school day for a lot of us!
Once we were waved off by the audience and dancers it was time to head towards our second venue, the Kunitachi Academy of Music and we went straight into a performance. The space to play was very small but as we were playing for not so many students and teachers it meant it had a more intimate feel. Regardless of space or how many we were playing to, the orchestra performed as if we were in a stadium. The audience could not stop smiling, or laughing for that matter because the orchestra took the opportunity to play their end of tour pranks on their musical director. One of which was to simply just keep handing him rubber ducks and chickens to confuse him. Another was changing a lament to a quicker tune without letting on and creating a mash-up. They also stopped a tune and played a cover of ‘Seven Nation Army’ by the White Stripes, a favourite of the orchestra. The concert also had a couple of shared pieces with Kunitatchi students who did there best to keep up!
Then it was time for another meal with some of the students and staff. Again, we were totally spoiled and rather than a sit-down meal it was more of a party which we all really enjoyed. There was a gorgeous piano and some Japanese students and kids of our own stood around it and sang songs together.
This last day that this orchestra will be performing together was magical. The energy and love of playing together were felt in every chord or hit of the drum. The quality of sound that has been delivered every single concert and performance has been outstanding. When we go home and we aren’t sharing rooms, dinners and tourist moments together, we will still have the music we have played together – and our stories of what we have experienced here in the land of the rising sun.