[ May 2019 ] My mother had her birthday while we were there in Japan this time.
It was a rare occasion that we were with her on the day, so we celebrated all together.
First, we went to Suntory Hall in Tokyo to listen to the concert of the Vienna Boys’ Choir, as my sister had suggested.
This hall was opened in 1986 as an exclusive hall for concerts and it was first time for me to visit there.
The auditorium was an unusual shape and you cannot tell which floor you are on.
I thought it was interesting, so I took a photo before the performance started and I was scolded.
According to my sister, in Japan there are many halls that you cannot take photos of, even when performances are not on.
I wonder why…
Vienna Boys’ Choir has been loved and respected in Japan for a long time.
Apparently, it was established in 1498, so they have a very long history.
Their singing is often called “Angels’ Voices“, but this was not a catchphrase created by some copy writers, but was created by Toscanini, the famous Italian conductor.
Currently, there are about 100 members, who are 10 to 14 year old boys and they all are living and learning in Palais Augarten in Vienna.
They are divided into 4 groups with the name of the composers who had some connections with this choir.
The one who came to Japan this year was Bruckner group.
The Kapellmeister (conductor) for this group was Mr. Manolo Cagnin, who looked rather glib.
We looked him up online and found that he is Italian.
Half of the programme was religious music and the other half was pop.
Sometimes, boys came up in front and read out some explanations of the songs in Japanese and it was obvious that they did not understand what they were saying, but there was a boy who read it in fluent Japanese and he was the smallest one.
We found out that he was Japanese.
When I was at the age of these boys, we had an image of this choir that they were excellent in not only their singing, but also the appearance was uniformly high, with blond hair.
But this time, they were various.
As well as the Japanese boy, there were some Oriental looking boys and their size was various, too.
According to the online information, in the 1960s the acceptance rate to join the choir was only about 6%, but now it is about 30 – 50%.
After enjoying the Angels’ Voices, we moved to Tokyo Sky Tree.
We had booked a table at a French restaurant called Brasserie Aux Amis on the 30th floor of Solamachi, the retail complex just next to Sky Tree.
Because Solamachi is huge, we got lost, so we arrived there much later than the appointed time, but it was OK.
My sister had booked the window table and later I learned that for the window table you have to pay an extra 1,000 yen (£7.32, €8.16, $9.28) per person.
Well, there is no point coming here if you do not get the window table, anyway.
The view was not as spectacular as the one from the top of the Sky Tree itself, but nonetheless the view, including the Sky Tree, was lovely.
Especially, the view just before the sunset was the most attractive thing in this restaurant.
The food was good, too, though.
We had the course menu with many small very French dishes, such as caviar and foie gras.
They served the birthday cake at the end, which had been ordered beforehand.
On the plate, ‘Happy Birthday’ was written in chocolate.
There was a French waiter, so we asked him to write it in French, too.
I was glad to see that my mum enjoyed the day very much.