The Tokyo Ensemble was founded in 2001 by the violinist and conductor Joji Hattori, with the aim of changing the international image of Japanese orchestras. All members of this string-based chamber orchestra are top professional musicians with a great passion for chamber music.
Although operating on a part-time basis, all musicians are very committed to the philosophy of this Ensemble and its high musical standard derives from rehearsing abundantly in the fashion of a chamber music group, without the usual time restriction to which most professional orchestras are bound. Every programme the Ensemble performs, mostly without conductor, is preceded by a full week of rehearsals where each member has the chance to participate actively in the process of improving the interpretation.
With its unique repertoire including arrangements made exclusively for this Ensemble and a particularly expressive performance style enhanced by a special uniform (in black and yellow), made for the group by the Japanese fashion designer Miss Ashida, the Tokyo Ensemble tries to combine the Japanese group ethic with the promotion of each member's individuality so important for creating interesting and lively performances.
In addition to regular concerts in Tokyo (at Opera City Hall or Kioi Hall), the Tokyo Ensemble has already made successful tours to Korea (2002), Portugal (2003) and Canada (2006). In 2008, the chamber orchestra was granted charitable status by the city government of Tokyo.
When I heard the Tokyo Ensemble for the first time, I could hear and feel freshness, natural expression, generosity, flexibility - and it was music making of a very high standard. I encourage Joji Hattori to continue this idealistic project which will no doubt change and benefit the future generations of Japanese musicians.
Maria Joao Pires
When I heard the Tokyo Ensemble, I was struck by the incredible enthusiasm of music-making by all participating musicians. I could see how the energy and swing of the director extended to all members of the ensemble in a way which was very clear to the audience.
Principal Cellist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra