Dec. 2007
Significance of success by the Niibori Guitar Orchestra in Munich and Vienna performance
Mitsuaki Kubota: International Niibori Music Academy

The Niibori Guitar Music Academy celebrated the 50th anniversary in 2007. As a highlight event of this commemoration, the performance of the Niibori Guitar Philharmonic Orchestra in Europe was held on 17th and 19th of November with the 130 players, and made a remarkable success.
The places performed were the Germering City hall in Munich and the world-famous Golden hall of Verein der Musikfreunde in Vienna. The capacity audiences in both places made a present of standing ovation. I sincerely thank many fans who supported these performances through this writing.

The success of these performances owes very much Professor Masayuki Kato (Director, Hauser Foundation) who is eagerly working in Germany. He requested assistance for the performance to the related department of Munich City, Vienna City, UNICEFF, guitar manufacturing companies, nursing NPO etc., and almost all of them were realized. Co-acting of Professor Kato with the Niibori Guitar Orchestra and the Niibori Guitar Ensemble (hereafter called NE) was played in the program and was applauded by the audience. He was actually a leading spirit of the performances.

The mayors of Munich and Vienna City positively assisted us and finally gave us a testimonial. Mr. Yasuteru Suzuki, vice consul of the consulate-general in Munich also gave us favor making publicity activities in Europe. More than 40 members of the support tour from Japan participated in the audience and backed us greatly. Iユm now in full of thanks to these persons.

The main concert of the Niibori Orchestra (the biggest concert the Niibori group carries out in a year) commemorating 50th anniversary was held at the Takemitsu Memorial Hall in Tokyo Opera City for two days consecutively in September. Great many audiences made them wonderful concerts. The Niibori playing method was also welcomed warmly and could make a great success in Germany and Austria where people have the highest level of appreciative ability for music. This is a very significant event for us because we could ascertain that the Niibori method has a key for a guitar orchestra to spread in Europe. It is said that a movement to build a German office of the Niibori Method. We had backgrounds that a Guitar Orchestra organized by students of the International Niibori Guitar Music Academy visited Stuttgart and Esslingen of Germany in 2002 and 2004 respectively and succeeded greatly. We are anticipating that the Niibori fever will be heightened from now on.

A little before the European tour, the NE played in Seoul as a guest of the International Korean Guitar Festival and received applause with a standing ovation. The same movement to build an office in Korea was discussed.

These stories are not a dream, which is understood by the following stories. The NE made a performance tour to Singapore and Formosa in 1981. A then student Mr. Thomas Liauw who was influenced by the concert has become a promoter to build up the Niibori Guitar Singapore and has realized the establishment. On the other hand in Formosa, Mr. Saiten Koh established a Niibori method guitar orchestra in Taichung and made special training of the Niibori Method for young people. The orchestra has grown up and acquired approval by IGOA (International Guitar Orchestra Association) as a professional group. They established an Asian Headquarter (excluding Japan) and are now in full activity.

The Niibori Guitar Orchestra or NE received enthusiastic welcome at any places where they visited, and a certain movement arises. Thus the possibility to build a key point of the Niibori Method overseas is considerably high. A German office of which Munich city offered at the time of our performance will possibly be realized, I hope.

There is one more thing I have noticed.

What I felt not only in the European performance, but in the main concert in September and the NE concert in May is that many and superior conductors are being brought up in the category of the Niibori method guitar ensemble. The Niibori group presides a nationwide guitar orchestra and ensemble competition having categories of schools and generals once a year and the 38th meet was held in October 2007. Looking at the meet which has prospered year by year, I felt that superior conductors are being brought up all in amateur, semi-professional and professional fields. In the main concert mentioned above, more than 10 professional conductors appeared on the stage and competed with their performance. In the middle scale formation such as the NE, 3~4 conductors direct the ensemble and speak to the audience (on the episode of the music piece to be played, etc). These talks make the concert more pleasant.

This means that a concert is not an event "simply to listen quietly" any more, but is becoming an event "to look and listen". Performance of a conductor or conductors is an important element of a stage in this meaning.

The problem is that rearing conductors is not an easy task compared with players. Players can be brought up in schools or in classes. However, a brilliant conductor can be brought up only by taking a long time and by a careful planning. Strong will of a candidate is also an important element. A conductor lives with an ensemble or an orchestra. Therefore he or she cannot be active unless considerable ensemble culture already exists. Luckily enough, the Niibori group sets an ensemble as its base, and is aiming at to build an ensemble in each class or citizenユs orchestra in the area. Therefore, teachers in the Niibori method class have enough opportunities to lead students as a conductor. There are many chances for a conductor to continue his or her training such as: a class concert held in spring and autumn, as ensemble competition, a candle concert at Christmas days, a New Year concert etc. The Niibori group has basis to bring up many talented conductors through these circumstances. If the conductorユs level goes up, the skill of the ensemble will be raised, therefore it is a motive force to spread Niibori culture. Due to the recent conductorユs progress, the level of the above said guitar ensemble competition was heightened, which is resulting in shortage of trophies for winners.

Moreover, a conductor course is held in spring and autumn in order to heighten their talent. It is an 8 hour's course where Dr. Niibori, the founder of the guitar orchestra, himself leads them for more than 3 hours in the open special lecture (many outsiders of the Niibori group participate in), Niibori's top class conductors teach the basis. If the student should have a chance to conduct a professional orchestra, he can make debut as a conductor.
Such a talent (conductors & leaders) rearing system is a big feature of the Niibori group, and is one of the main portion of the Niibori system. We have many guitar orchestras or citizen's orchestras at present regardless of professional or amateur based on various tone range guitars. That both a conductor and an orchestra (or ensemble) tries to improve mutually is a very important point to spread the Niibori culture.

Dr. Niibori is now eager to advocate visual learning. To learn from the eyes is the best way especially for studying the conduct which must handle a 3 dimensional technique. Even if many characters and figures are used in a book, it will only confuse readers. On the other hand, a student can understand the knack in a shortest way if he stands and follows beside the instructor (or the visual aid). Dr. Niibori sticks to a large size screen in which one can observe the whole body of the conductor and also the large tone volume because one can study more effectively. In the Library & Museum N of the Niibori Headquarter, a monitor of 50 inches and a screen of 80 inches are equipped. They are very convenient to study "conduct" because anyone can review any concert in the past. Setting aside the story of the Library & Museum N, I am very glad that 4 conductors having marked individuality had a chance to show performance in their favorite music pieces in Europe. Usually there is only one conductor for one concert in Europe. I am quite curious to know how the European audiences felt looking at plural conductors. (I was the first one to have conducted in the concert, there may be some chance they mistook me as Dr. Niibori!)

There were really many impressive events in this tour. My conclusion is summarized as follows. I honestly glad that the guitar orchestra, a wonderful art culture Dr. Niibori has brought up spending 50 years was received enthusiastically even in Musikverein, the highest stage in music city Vienna: Therefore I thought that we must spread the guitar orchestra to more people and make them feel the pleasure of its performance: And again, I was struck with the grandeur of Dr. Niibori!