From countries all around the world to Hokkaido. Every summer, young musicians gather at PMF. Sapporo Symphony Orchestra violinist, Maiko Tomita

As an international educational music festival which aims to foster the young musicians from around the world, the “Pacific Music Festival (PMF)” is held in Sapporo every year from July to early August. “PMF Academy members”, carefully selected in auditions held all around the world, gather in Sapporo. During the festival, around 40 concerts are held in and around the city, and Sapporo in the summer echoes with the sound of classical music. We spoke with Maiko Tomita, a PMF alumni and violinist with the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra (Sakkyo).

Producing musicians belonging to the orchestras of the world from Sapporo

“When I first came to Sapporo as a PMF Academy member born and raised in Kansai, it was wonderful to be able to play orchestra and chamber music with world-class conductors and musicians; another big part of the charm is that expenses for the trip to Sapporo and accommodation during the festival are kept small. During the PMF, most of the practice sessions are conducted in “Sapporo Art Park”. Musicians of different nationalities, ages and cultures all practiced together, and creating music together in preparation for the concerts was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The friends I made during my time at the PMF are all now active members of orchestras around the world. When they come back to Sapporo for performances or on holiday, we would meet again and soon return to our days as members of the PMF Academy. I think it is because our experience was so intense during that time.”

The sound of Sapporo’s orchestra created by the changing of the seasons

“Sapporo has no rainy season and the air is dry, so the musical instruments sound really good.” says Tomita. In Sapporo, with a summer cooler than that of Japan’s main island of Honshu, you can play in comfort.

“When I heard Sakkyo play for the first time as a PMF Academy member, I remember being filled with emotion and thinking, “So there are orchestras which can sound as beautiful as this.” Sakkyo’s main performance venue Concert Hall Kitara is in the middle of Nakajima Park, and the Art Forest practice ground is, as the name suggests, in the middle of a forest. Members have come from all over Japan, but everyone lives in Sapporo, and by sharing the changes of the seasons, I feel that the sound becomes one. In the case of the orchestras of other cities, it is common for practice sessions and concerts to be conducted in city centers surrounded by buildings. However, in Sapporo, there are practice grounds in wide open spaces away from the town, and in between practices we are soothed by the nature which surrounds us. This is surely reflected in the music the orchestra produces. I think the fact that I found the tones to be so beautiful when I first heard the sound of Sakkyo has something to do with the air in Sapporo and the beautiful scenery which changes from season to season.”

Going around the PMF concerts of Sapporo in summer

“It is something I have felt since my time as a PMF Academy member, but Sapporo audiences listen to music with such warmth. You may sense the reactions of the audience by the changes in the atmosphere of the venue, and if they listen to it warmly, we the performers can also enjoy ourselves and play with feeling. As an Academy member, it was a really busy month, with practices every day and repeated concerts. Looking back, the audiences have watched over me as I have grown, and this may well be what made me want to become a member of Sakkyo.”

PMF concerts are held in various places around the city. “Picnic Concerts” are held on the “Sapporo Art Park Outdoor Stage”, which also feature the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra. In the intervals, you can visit the Art Park museum or take a walk through the outdoor museum. While being able to enjoy free concerts in the heart of the city in places such as “Odori Park nishi 6-chome”, “Sapporo Clock Tower” and “City Hall Lobby”, you may also dress up and go to the evening “PMF GALA Concerts” in Sapporo Concert Hall Kitara, where Academy members play with passion. Each year, over 200 pieces of music are played in about 40 performances. Among them are famous pieces you will have heard before at least once, such as Beethoven’s “9th Symphony” and Tchaikovsky’s “Piano Concerto”. Even for those of you who are new to orchestras, we want you to take the opportunity of the PMF to experience the joy of listening to live classical music in a concert hall.

Pacific Music Festival (PMF) 2014

OpenJuly 12–August 7, 2014
PlaceSapporo Concert Hall KitaraSapporo Art ParkOdori Park

Maiko Tomita

Violinist, Sapporo Symphony Orchestra

Born in Osaka in 1979. Graduated from the Music Course at the Department of Music and Fine Arts of the Osaka Kyoiku University and later from the Graduate School of Art Culture at the same university, she participated in the PMF as an Academy member in 2006 and 2007 and served as section leader. She joined the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra in 2008 and currently serves as second violinist