Joe Hisaishi Concert part 4: Program List + Impression

It was 8:10ish pm, and I was sitting in my seat in the Concert Hall of the Hong Kong Cultural Center waiting impatiently for the concert to start. The light finally dimmed, and a slightly smiling Joe Hisaishi appeared on stage. He walked to center stage, shook hands with the Concertmaster, bowed to the audience, and took his place at the conductor’s stand. He went into a ready stance, knees slightly bending, hands in front of him with the ready sign, and I held my breath. He moved his hand, with the smile still on his face, and the orchestra began to play a piece that I wasn’t familiar with. I didn’t know what to expect, but his music carried me along, and for the rest of the night, I immersed myself in his music.

While they didn’t give out program, from what I remember, the program was like this:

  1. Asian X.T.C. (or was it 水の旅人?)
  2. For You
  3. 風の谷のナウシカ (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind) – Medley
  4. もののけ姫 (Princess Mononoke) – Medley
  5. Symphonic Variation 「Merry-go-round」
  6. 千と千尋の神隠し (Spirited Away) – pf
  7. Summer (?) – pf
  8. Zai-Jian – pf
  9. Dawn of Asia
  10. Monkey Forrest
  11. Asian Crisis
  12. Hana-bi
  13. Tango X.T.C.
  14. A Chinese Tall Story
  15. となりのトトロ (My Neighbor Totoro) – Medley
  16. アシタカとサン (Ashitaka to Sen) from Princess Mononoke (?) – pf

I’m not too sure about numbers 1, 7, and 16, but I think I got most of them right, including the 4 Asian X.T.C. pieces. Although, reading on the Internet, some are saying that there was something from Laputa: Castle in the Sky. I don’t remember hearing anything from Laputa, though….


The Orchestra sat in it usual places, and Joe Hisaishi conducted the orchestra himself, only jumping to the piano when the piece was focused on the piano. The piano was placed differently from Piano Concertos, where the piano was stage right of the conductor; instead the piano was placed stage left of the conductor, the chair right in front of the conductor’s stand. There was, however, a second piano (and another keyboard which I don’t know what it is) on stage behind the 1st and 2nd violin, since most Joe Hisaishi pieces have piano in it. There is also a taiko on stage for the Princess Mononoke piece. After Hana-bi, though, the crew came out and removed the conductor’s stand, and moved the piano to where it was, with Joe Hisaishi facing the orchestra.

The Orchestral pieces in this concert were very good, considering how little practice the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra must have had prior to this concert. The pieces came out very well, although I have to say they spent more time looking at the score than the conductor himself. Most pieces, especially the older ones came out very smoothly, with the newer ones slightly on the jarring side. Perhaps it was part of the effect of the pieces, since they used a quite a bit of discordant notes in it. The result is not unpleasant, but gave a chaotic and a view of the modern world (am I making any sense?). The Merry-Go-Round and A Chinese Tall Story pieces were of note, which I thought were played very well. However, I like the Nausicaä and the Princess Mononoke pieces better, not only because I was more familiar with the pieces, but also the piece repeated itself less. My one objection about the newer Joe Hisaishi pieces was that they almost invariably ran on the same theme.

The piece that got the best reception that night, though, was the Totoro piece. XD I’m sure just about everyone in the hall knew of that piece, and its light spirited air was totally awesome. As a matter of fact, I saw some members of the orchestra making faces before the piece and some had a slight grin while playing it. They looked like they enjoyed playing the piece, but the audience was enjoying themselves even more.

My only complain of the night (other than that there was no program) were the piano solo pieces that Joe Hisaishi played. Ashitaka to Sen (I not really sure, since I was so emotional that I almost cried. ^_^;;; ) came out extremely well, and it was just about perfect (and a great closing piece). The other 3 piano solo pieces, on the other hand were not as good. Joe Hisaishi sounded as if he didn’t practice the pieces enough, and he missed a few notes in each of the pieces (although that’s less of a case for the Spirited Away piece). Again, Zai-Jian sounded a little jarring, though it seemed to be designed so.

Overall, and this is very subjective, I loved the concert. Very much. So much that I almost cried when they played For You, and almost cheered when they started playing Nausicaä. From my view, it was great to see Joe Hisaishi conduct. He had an easy but energetic manner while conducting, smiling gently most of the time, and after the pieces thanked the orchestra with a gassho. The audience was also very receptive to him, and the clapping became more and more thunderous as the concert progressed, climaxing with a standing ovation after A Chinese Tall Story and Totoro. He kept his smile on his face while facing the audience, and bowed and gassho to the audience as well.

It was one of the best concerts what I have experienced, not only because I was a fan and familiar with the piece, but also because of the atmosphere and mannerism of the performers. I don’t think I will ever forget about this concert, though it was a pity I don’t have any memento from this concert, for me to look at and recall the concert.


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Please don't ask me where you could download the anime/movie/dorama. Check Tokyo Toshokan first, please. Thanks.

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