Asia News: Vienna Philharmonic Plans Tour, Gyeonggi Hosts Stadium Concert & More
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra Pushes Ahead With Japan Tour
The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is slated to go ahead with its Japan tour, which starts Nov. 5, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Tickets for the tour went on sale about a year ago, but since last spring almost all Japan tours of foreign musicians have been postponed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
In recent weeks, however, the Japanese government has relaxed restrictions for events that attract large groups of people.
What’s notable about the Vienna Philharmonic tour is that it is being organized by Suntory Hall, Japan’s most prestigious classical music concert hall, where most of the Austrian ensemble’s concerts will be held. Suntory Hall has cancelled all performances until February but is making an exception for Vienna.
About 120 members of the orchestra, which will be led by Valery Gergiev, will arrive at Fukuoka Airport in western Japan by chartered plane on Nov. 4 and will undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival.
They are scheduled to play at the Kitakyushu Soleil Hall on Nov. 5, Festival Hall in Osaka on Nov. 6, Muza Kawasaki Symphony Hall in Kawasaki on Nov. 8, and at Suntory Hall in Tokyo on Nov. 9, 10, 13 and 14. An additional concert for Nov. 12 at Suntory Hall has also been announced. The ensemble will travel across Japan on chartered buses and in specially reserved cars on the bullet train.
Reportedly, the members will not leave their hotel rooms while in Japan except to move to venues for performances and rehearsals.
Public broadcaster NHK reports that the orchestra was “granted” a special entry permit by the government for the tour after Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz sent a letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga asking him to allow the tour to go ahead. The orchestra received permission on Oct. 30. It will be the group’s first tour outside of Austria since the pandemic began.
Korean Music Drive-In Marred With Violators
According to the International Business Times, the two-day Korean Music Drive-In Festival that started Oct. 31 was marred by fans who violated restrictions set up for the event by the police.
The festival featured more than two dozen K-Pop acts performing live in front of an audience that was confined to their cars in a large event space in the city of Incheon.
However, some fans left their cars and tried to run up to the stage to be closer to the music. Some also reportedly tried to record the concert on mobile devices.
IBT says that security personnel chased the miscreants away from the stage and the program had to be halted for a period of time. After security was tightened, the concert continued without any problems.
Some cars were supposedly damaged in the excitement. Video of the problems in the venue were shared on social media, and the festival organizer streamed the concert for fans outside of South Korea. The “chaos,” however, was not reported in most Korean accounts of the festival, which may indicate it wasn’t as serious as IBT reported.
Gyeonggi Hosts Stadium Concert
In other Korean concert news, the provincial government of Gyeonggi held a live K-Pop show at the Goyang Main Stadium at the end of October featuring special safety measures.
In addition to limiting the audience through a pre-booking system, the organizers set up 300 clear plastic dome tents on the grounds of the stadium.
Each tent could accommodate 4 people who were supposed to belong to the same “household.” An additional 400 spectators were chosen to watch the festival online. The Gyeonggi government said it was the first concert in the world to feature such tents.
AP Photo / Eugene Hoshiko – Tokyo Olympics Torch
Former judo Olympic medalist Tadahiro Nomura holds the Olympic torch of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games during a press conference in Tokyo Wednesday, March 20, 2019. The Tokyo Olympics open on July 24, 2020.
Olympics Ticketholders Guaranteed Refunds
Local organizers announced on Oct. 30 that anyone who bought tickets in Japan for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be guaranteed refunds.
Those ticket holders who believe they will not be able to attend the Games next summer can apply online for refunds between Nov. 10 and Nov. 30. Applications for refunds for the Paralympic Games will be accepted from Dec. 1 to 21.
Refunds will also be made if seating turns out to be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
A spokesperson said during an online briefing, “As the host there is a possibility that we may not be able to provide spectating opportunities to a part of the ticket holders. In that case we will provide a refund.”
Though various officials have assured the public that the Tokyo Olympics will definitely go ahead in the summer or 2021, there are still media voices saying that matters could change at any time. At present, the International Olympic Committee has not put forth specific countermeasures for the Games if the pandemic is still a problem.