Telemann Institute Japan (= TIJ) is a comprehensive institute of baroque music composed of five performing groups, Telemann Chamber Orchestra, Telemann Chamber Choir, Collegium Musicum Telemann, Baroque Choir Telemann, and Symphonic Telemann, supported by two groups, TIJ Support Group, and Telemann Friendship Association.
Back in 1963, while they were still students of Daion - Osaka College of Music, the threesome of Takeharu Nobuhara, Takashi Kitayama, and Tomiko Miyajima set up Telemann Ensemble to explore a possibility of “Popularization And Enlightenment Of Baroque Music” with ‘the sense of fun’ at its axis. Later it developed into Telemann Chamber Orchestra. In 1968, Telemann Choir was formed, staffed with the regular members. Altogether, in 1969, they grew up to form Osaka Telemann Institute, a comprehensive institute in chamber music.
Their activity has been multi-faceted. Apart from its “Regular Concert” which is common in any other music institutes in general, its “Monthly Concerts” since 1963 have been held in a salon style atmosphere where a candid dialogue is exchanged between the conductor and audience. The “Church Music Series” which followed since 1971 have been performed in the sacred Cathedral true to the original function of church music. They believe the latter two among others are unique to TIJ. Their activity has enjoyed a high reputation in Kansai (Western Regions), as exemplified in the series of awards they have been honored with: Osaka Cultural Festival Award in 1962, 1972, and 1982, Music Critique Club Award in 1970, 1975 and 1976, Osaka Prefectural Theatrical Performance Award in 1975 and 1985. In 1975, in the name of "Church Music Series/Special Performance", they achieved the first performance in the Japanese musical history of Georg Philipp Telemann’s Matthäus-Passion both in Osaka and Tokyo, and began widening the scope of their activity outside Kansai.
In appreciation of their active musical performances and achievements, they won in 1971 “Agency for Cultural Affairs Cultural Festival Excellent Performance Award” for the first time as an institute participating from Kansai. This award has given the members of the Institute a great hope, impetus and encouragement. In the hope of further leap ahead of the Institute, in 1979, they changed their name, Osaka Telemann Institute to Telemann Institute Japan.
The positive stance of their activity has gone from strength to strength. They performed at “The 300th Anniversary Concert of the Birth of Georg Philipp Telemann” under the auspices of the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 1981, besides beginning to perform in 1982 “The Beethoven Symphony No.9 by 100 Musicians”, and baroque music in 1983, using the original baroque instruments, triggered by the performance together with Anner Bylsma, a Dutch Baroque cellist. Then, in 1985, 70 musicians composed of Chamber Music Orchestra and Chamber Choir made a performing tour to then “East” Germany and performed at the International Music Festival in Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of the Birth of Johann Sebastian Bach as the only music institute from Japan. They enjoyed great applauds for this performance from every quarter both domestic and abroad. This led to winning The 17th Suntory Music Award in the same year, decisively solidifying the status of the Institute in the music world in Japan.
An Attempt At Another Performance Style - A Step by Step To The Classical Performance
Meanwhile, in addition to the performance by “modern instruments”, they have begun since 1980 another performance style using “original baroque instruments” in the name of Collegium Musicum Telemann. Thus, they have become the only Institute in Japan that regularly performs in both performance styles. By baroque instruments, they mean replicas of instruments used during the Baroque era (around AD1700) or originals (namely, instruments, reconverted back to the original form, which had once been converted into modern instruments). For example, gut-strings (the same as those in tennis rackets), slim soul post, delicate bass bar, and neck without tilt characterise baroque violins.
Seizing the occasion in 1983 of playing together with Anner Bylsma, a Dutch Baroque cellist, they began an approach to Baroque music performance using original instruments. Under instructions of Simon Standage, a British prodigy in Baroque violin, they have managed to grow rapidly and in 1990, they concluded a tie-up agreement with Collegium Musicum 90 presided by Simon Standage. With appointment as music director in the same year of the harpsichordist Shin-ichiro Nakano, Collegium Musicum Telemann has kept attracting the audience to this day, thanks largely to his unique competency in stage management and to his outstanding sensitivity for music.
In June 1992, Collegium Musicum Telemann participated in “The Berkeley Early Music Festival” in the USA. During the Invitational Performance Trip to Germany in February 1999 (the first ever for a Japanese Baroque musical instruments institute to be invited by Europe), Collegium Musicum Telemann, under directorship of Shin-ichiro Nakano, received feverish applauds from the European audience that filled the concert hall and appealed the magnetic charm of Baroque music to the international aficionados of music.
In May 2003, Collegium Musicum Telemann, as the only party from Japan to be invited for Bachfest Leipzig 2003, performed in Eisenach, Magdeburg, etc. and returned to Japan after a highly successful trip. It released its first CD as Collegium Musicum Telemann in December 2000 followed by “The First Series of the Works of Telemann" in January 2002, with the release schedule determined for further release of the subsequent series of the Works of Telemann. They wish to redouble their efforts to continue with their activity with a positive stance.
Takeharu Nobuhara personally considers that choir is indispensable in pursuit of baroque music and set up Telemann Chamber Choir in 1968. In the firm belief that church music is best performed in a sacred cathedral, since the first performance in 1971, they have kept up their performance of “Church Music Series” at the sacred Catholic Shukugawa Cathedral, Nishinomiya-shi. This autonomous performance now forms the core of TIJ along with its “Monthly Concert” and Telemann Chamber Choir contributed greatly to their efforts in reaching this end. Particularly popular in this Church Music Series is “Christmas Oratorio” by J.S. Bach. In this Series, they have tried matinee performance on national holidays and caption screen on the wall, etc. for the first time in Japan.
A series of “Messiah in 10 consecutive years” in 10 different versions as conducted by G.P. Telemann in his lifetime, the consecutive performance of G.P. Telemann’s phantasmal Matthäus-Passion, “Handel’s Oratorio Series Performed For The First Time In Japan”, etc. have attracted a wide public attention and admiration. Along with the formation in 1990 of Collegium Musicum Telemann, in 1993, Telemann Chamber Choir was born, comprised mainly of the choir members of the former and so named by Max van Egmond who was invited in the same year and has assumed his position as music advisor of Telemann Chamber since.
Evolution For The Future
The 40th Anniversary of TIJ in 2003 set the stage for new developments in their music performance using ‘modern instruments’, through performance based on TIJ’s own unique concepts, such as an innovative Mozart image that has attracted the public attention. In the past, TIJ has perhaps leaned more toward performance of the classical music. However, from now on, they wish to develop their performance in clear distinction of the two extremes, ‘Modern vs. Baroque’ as the only music institute in Japan equipped to offer performance in both styles regularly so that they may bring the true listening pleasure to all music lovers.
TIJ now offer about 20 times of autonomous performance each year:
(1) Regular Concert, that expresses the Institute’s directivity toward music (6 times a year inclusive of Osaka and Tokyo)
(2) Monthly Concert performed in the salon atmosphere, the original pattern of baroque music, (10 times a year)
(3) Church Music Series focused on church music (twice a year at Catholic Shukugawa Church, Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Pref.) and other special performances.