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What is PMF?

An international educational music festival,
fostering the young musicians of the world Pacific Music Festival

The Pacific Music Festival (PMF) is an international educational music festival founded in Sapporo, Japan in 1990 by Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990), world-renowned conductor and composer of such works as West Side Story, along with the London Symphony Orchestra. Now over 30 years on, a cumulative total of over 3,700 talented young musicians from 78 countries and regions have participated in PMF, going on to assume crucial roles in the classical music world.

The heart of PMF is the Academy, an educational program featuring top musicians of the world as faculty and fostering young musicians chosen through highly competitive auditions from all across the globe. For roughly 1 month each summer, these excellent young musicians, from so many different places and cultures, gather and work diligently together to create a unity through the shared language of music, in the process gaining a wealth of experience and deepening international mutual understanding. These Academy members comprise the world-class PMF Orchestra, considered the premier youth orchestra in Asia, whose passionate performances never fail to inspire.

Music outreach represents another important aspect of PMF, with various programs designed to nurture young musicians in the local community and to broaden the reach of classical music in the general public. The PMF Link Up Concert provides elementary school students with the opportunity to perform along with the PMF Orchestra. A variety of seminars provide points of contact between PMF's world-class conductors and faculty and local music students, ranging from middle-school wind ensembles to university orchestras. Volunteer Concerts at hospitals, special-needs schools, and more, focus on bringing music to people who find it difficult to attend a concert hall. These programs and many more also highlight the strong roots that PMF maintains in the community - a vital feature of the festival.

PMF is part of a triumvirate of international educational music festivals spanning the globe that share deep connections with Bernstein, along with the Tanglewood Music Festival in the US and the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival in Germany. As the representative of Bernstein's vision in Asia, PMF will continue to pass on his legacy into the future.

Sponsoring Organization: Pacific Music festival Organizing Committee / City of Sapporo
Mutual Sponsor: Sapporo Cultural Arts Foundation (Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara)

Inheriting Leonard Bernstein's Vision

Sadly, Bernstein passed away only 3 short months after founding PMF. With the fate of the festival uncertain, Mr. Takeshi Itagaki, then Mayor of Sapporo, attended the Bernstein Memorial Concert held in New York on December 31 of the same year, and there declared his decision "to fulfill Mr. Bernstein's wish and hold the Pacific Music Festival every year in my city of Sapporo." PMF has been carving out its rich history in Sapporo ever since.

"Pacific" in the festival's name is not simply indicative of geography, but refers also to "peace." PMF strives to manifest Bernstein's vision of contributing to world peace through music education.

Leonard Bernstein 02

Leonard Bernstein 03

Leonard Bernstein

Leading 20th century American conductor, composer, pianist, and music educator

PMF Academy group photographThe PMF Academy

The core of PMF is the Orchestra Academy, made up of young musicians from the ages of 18 to 29, who each summer create a new and unique harmony together. Providing them with world-class educational opportunities is the main focus of the festival. Various other Academies have also been implemented over the years, including those for vocalists, conductors, composers, and more; PMF has steadily striven to foster the musicians of tomorrow.

A World-Class Faculty

Each year, the curriculum is divided into 2 parts, with faculty consisting of musicians from the Wiener Philharmoniker and Berliner Philharmoniker (PMF EUROPE) during the first half of the festival, and musicians of the major orchestras of the US (PMF AMERICA) during the second. As a result, the Academy learns a variety of styles and techniques in a short, intensive period, broadening their abilities. The faculty members not only teach the Academy but also lead them in performances with world-class conductors and soloists; altogether the experience for the Academy is invaluable, and unique to PMF.

Artistic Directors and Principal Conductors

  • Leonard Bernstein Artistic Director
    Leonard Bernstein
  • Michael Tilson Thomas Artistic Director
    Michael Tilson Thomas
    (1990-2000, 09)
  • Christoph Eschenbach Artistic Director
    Christoph Eschenbach
    (1991, 93-98, 2009, 19)
  • Charles Dutoit Artistic Director
    Charles Dutoit
  • Fabio Luisi Artistic Director,
    Principal Conductor

    Fabio Luisi
    (2004, 08, 10-12)
  • Valery Gergiev Artistic Director,
    Principal Conductor

    Valery Gergiev
    (2004, 06, 15-19)
  • Bernard Haitink Principal Conductor
    Bernard Haitink
  • Nello Santi Principal Conductor
    Nello Santi
  • Riccardo Muti Principal Conductor
    Riccardo Muti
  • Jun Märkl Principal Conductor
    Jun Märkl
    (2013, 15, 17)
  • Marin Alsop Principal Conductor
    John Axerlod
    (2016, 18)
  • Marin Alsop Principal Conductor
    Marin Alsop
    (1990, 2019)
  • Lahav Shani Principal Conductor
    Lahav Shani
  • Manfred Honeck Principal Conductor
    Manfred Honeck

It's All about Education -
Freedom from
Economic Burden

In order to ensure that talented musicians are not prevented from participating in PMF for financial reasons, the PMF Organizing Committee covers travel expenses from anywhere in the world to Sapporo, as well as accommodations for the duration of the festival and the instruction fees of the world-class faculty.

Short-Term Intensive Programs PMF

Music, Music, Music!
Short-Term Intensive Programs

PMF is similar in structure to a "music summer camp." For the roughly month-long duration of the festival, Academy members take on short-term intensive programs, devoting themselves entirely to music. The schedule is highly concentrated, centering on preparing for the main orchestral programs each weekend, but also including chamber music rehearsals, masterclasses, and more. Most rehearsals and concerts take place at Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara, which is considered one of the best music halls in the world.

Character Development through Music

Character Development through Music

PMF Academy members learn a comprehensive set of skills necessary for being a musician, overcoming barriers of language and cultural background, coming together in a spirit of cooperation, and of course coming to terms with the music itself. In addition to the musical instruction they receive from conductors and faculty, they also interact with a broad range of like-minded peers, and encounter Sapporo's rich natural environment and Japanese culture. Alumni often cite their PMF experience as a lifelong influence.

PMF Alumni Spread their Wings
in the World

PMF Academy national origin 1990-2021

The cumulative number of Academy members who have attended PMF since 1990 now exceeds 3,700, hailing from 78 countries and regions. These "PMF alumni" are currently active in over 200 orchestras and a wide variety of other musical organizations and fields, sharing their musical gifts on the world stage.

List of orchestras where you can find PMF alumni >

Among the alumni who establish themselves at the top of the world music scene, some even return to PMF as faculty.

  • Daniel Matsukawa

    Daniel Matsukawa, bassoon
    Principal, Philadelphia Orchestra
    attended PMF 1992, 93, 94

  • Denis Bouriakov

    Denis Bouriakov, flute
    Principal, Los Angeles Philharmonic
    attended PMF 2003

  • Anton Rist © Matt Dine

    Anton Rist, clarinet
    Principal, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
    attended PMF 2012

  • Joseph Pereira

    Joseph Pereira, timpani
    Principal, Los Angeles Philharmonic
    attended PMF 2005

A Variety of Concerts

In addition to its educational aspects, PMF concerts feature performances of excellent quality, allowing a broad range of listeners to experience the power and the wonder of music. PMF concerts are divided into "orchestra" and "chamber" concerts (according to the number of players), and into those that primarily feature Academy members, showcasing what they have learned, and those that feature faculty members. There are even half-day events such as the PMF GALA Concert and the Picnic Concert. Every year large audiences enjoy a wide variety of concerts at PMF.

PMF Concert Information >

  • PMF Orchestra ConcertsPMF Orchestra Concerts
  • Chamber Music ConcertsChamber Music Concerts
  • Outreach ConcertsOutreach Concerts

    These concerts are presented outside the concert hall, at cultural properties and other public facilities, offering casual opportunities for people to approach music.

  • The PMF GALA ConcertThe PMF GALA Concert

    This concert brings together a variety of pieces from chamber and orchestra repertoire. Audience members often dress formally and enjoy a weekend-afternoon of refined music in an elegant environment.

  • The Picnic ConcertThe Picnic Concert

    Taking place at the Sapporo Art Park Outdoor Stage, this concert is marked by a casual atmosphere, with the sounds of classical music resonating in the forest all throughout the day.

PMF has been designated an intangible "Hokkaido Cultural Heritage," ensuring that it will be passed on to following generations.

Among the many treasured resources unique to Hokkaido, a select few deemed of special importance are bestowed with the title "Hokkaido Cultural Heritage." In 2018, the Hokkaido Heritage Council officially recognized PMF as "an educational music festival both rooted in Hokkaido's rich natural beauty and presenting on the world stage"

Music Outreach Programs

While the musicians hail from all over the world, PMF remains firmly rooted in its community. One of the many expressions of this can be seen in the various music outreach programs held in Sapporo.

The Link Up Concert

The Link Up Concert >

The Link Up Concert is an educational program geared toward elementary school students, based on the Carnegie Hall program, making use of video and staging elements. Children sing and play recorders along with the PMF Orchestra.

Open Rehearsals

Open Rehearsals

A program allowing audiences to attend PMF Orchestra rehearsals, to observe artists active on the world stage as they instruct the PMF Academy, and to watch the music take shape as they prepare it for performance.

PMF Classical LAB♪

PMF Classical LAB♪

A music lecture series aimed at making classical music more approachable and fun for all, in a format only possible at PMF.

Hokkaido School-Ensemble Rehearsals

Hokkaido School-Ensemble Rehearsals

PMF faculty travel to local middle & high-schools and conduct rehearsals, offering new perspectives and unique experiences to Hokkaido students.

Open Masterclasses

Open Masterclasses

PMF faculty give masterclasses for local music majors - individually or in small ensembles. These are open to the public.

Youth Wing seats, U25 discounts

Youth Wing seats, U25 discounts

In order to provide the younger generation with easier access to classical music, Youth Wing seats, with a view of the orchestra, are provided for designated concerts to people 25 or younger (U25) for free. Other concerts feature U25 discounts.

PMF's Support Structure

PMF is trilaterally supported by 1) individuals the world over with whom PMF's ideals resonate, 2) companies and organizations, in support of local community and culture, and 3) administrative public institutions that provide comprehensive support to the music festival. Since its founding, PMF has experienced strong growth as a result of such steady, generous support.

Supporting Companies & Organizations >