I understand the tradition of PMF, and its special characteristics. Leonard Bernstein guided the formation of this festival, and has had great influence on it ever since. This rich tradition of PMF has been built by many wonderful musicians across this 25-year span. I think it's wonderful that Japan hosts such a music festival.
In their later years, the great conductors, including Bernstein, came to think that the most important aspect of their job was working with young musicians. I now well understand how they felt. I have performed together with many famous, wonderful orchestras, but I now feel that it is more important to work with young musicians. To this point I have worked with the National Youth Orchestra in America, with Verbier, the Swiss music festival, and with PMF. As I continue the work of fostering young musicians, I am coming to see just how necessary this work is. It's not just about technique. It's about drawing out their sense of musical fantasy, opening it up, spreading it out. I think this is of the utmost importance.
As the Artistic Director of PMF, the choosing of repertoire for these few years will be important. For the first year's program, I think it would be good to include a Beethoven piano concerto, Number 5, the "Emperor" Concerto, for example, and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 10. However, I do not think that deciding which piece by which composer to perform is the only important thing. I think that performing the works of the great composers is itself a source of great joy and benefit to young musicians. To them, the best teachers are the composers. As the Artistic Director, standing in front of them and leading them, I think the most important role I can play is that of supporting them through the process of understanding the composers, offering them hints.
Young musicians spend a few weeks here during the festival period in a wonderful location in Japan, in nature-rich Sapporo; I hope that while being an interesting few weeks for them it will also be a time of great significance. The experience of performing in outdoor concerts, for example, will surely leave a great impression on them. I hope that the youth participating in PMF will not simply discover one symphony, but that they will discover something new about all composers.
I think that PMF is a wonderful music festival, with its focus on young people. It is a place where the potential of young musicians can be enriched, deepened, and allowed to blossom. PMF is a music festival comprising extremely complicated countries and regions, and I believe that the young musicians who participate in it develop their sense of mutual understanding, and that through music, society itself is improved.
This is precisely why I made the decision to become the Artistic Director of PMF.
October 15, 2014
Imperial Hotel Tokyo