The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra will return to Adelaide Festival Centre to farewell its long-serving concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto, the orchestra announced today. While the ASO has returned to live performance following the shutdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic – performing its ‘Sanctuary’ community centre concerts, and yesterday’s Classics Unwrapped 3 concert at the Barossa Arts Centre – the Natsuko Plays Beethoven concert on September 19, conducted by Dane Lam, marks the orchestra’s return to Adelaide’s main stage.

Natsuko YoshimotoAdelaide Symphony Orchestra’s outgoing Concertmaster Natsuko Yoshimoto. Photo © Claudio Raschella

“While the orchestra can’t celebrate the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth by performing all nine Beethoven Symphonies as originally planned, we’re thrilled to mark this special occasion with one of our closest friends – Natsuko Yoshimoto,” said Managing Director Vincent Ciccarello. “The September date will be especially poignant, as we farewell our long-serving, esteemed concertmaster.”

“As a performer I treat every concert as if I’m playing the piece for the first and the last time but, this being my final year, I feel quite emotional, as it will be the last time that I play these works with this wonderful orchestra,” Yoshimoto said.

Yoshimoto will perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto on a program alongside Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Smetana’s The Moldau from Má vlast.

The Beethoven “really has everything,” she said. “It’s like life itself! From the incredibly lyrical and broad first movement, followed by an almost religious and hymn-like sublime second movement, to a very rustic and energetic last movement, it explores, seeks and speaks with an enormous range of emotions. Each phrase and every moment feels so inspired; it’s such a masterful piece.”

“I will miss having such an inspiring environment all the time to work in!” Yoshimoto said of her departure. “Of course, we have many conductors and soloists who are incredibly inspiring, but I’m also always amazed by the talent and skills that my colleagues in the orchestra have. The ASO is full of special people and I have tremendous respect for them and I’m always learning from them!”

The event will be held in accordance with SA Health direction and the South Australian Roadmap for Easing Covid-19 Restrictions, with attendees seated in a checkerboard format with at least one empty seat between patrons. “We are delighted to welcome back Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and audiences to Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre to experience this very special Beethoven Anniversary concert,” Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and Artistic Director Douglas Gautier said. “We have been working closely with local arts organisations to bring back live entertainment and keep our community connected through live music, celebrating Adelaide’s important standing as a UNESCO City of Music. To ensure patrons feel comfortable and safe returning to our venues, we have implemented several safety measures including physical distancing, hand sanitising stations, and frequent cleaning.”

The Adelaide Symphony Orchestra presents Natsuko Plays Beethoven on September 19 at the Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre.

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