London Symphony Orchestra deepens relationships in Japan following Japan-UK Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement signing

Following the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the UK and Japan on 23 October 2020 the London Symphony Orchestra launches details of new projects for audiences and young musicians in Japan.

  • LSO partners with Kajimoto for an online concert of Sir Simon Rattle conducting Bartók’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle on 23 October 2020
  • LSO Live release new recordings beginning with Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen and Sinfonietta conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, distributed throughout Japan by King Music International
  • LSO Discovery, the LSO education arm, will be delivering the TDK Rising Stars Lecture 2020 – Online Seminar Ver – a webinar for aspiring Japanese music students in collaboration with Kajimoto and TDK in November
  • LSO’s How to Build an Orchestra book translated and launched in Japan by BL publishing
  • LSO Discovery will also continue the partnership with the British Council Japan to deliver an Olympic legacy project in July 2021, with Tokyo communities and musicians

The LSO has been playing live concerts in Japan for over fifty-five years, and was scheduled to make a four city of Japan tour during September and October 2020 with Sir Simon Rattle, the LSO’s Music Director. Due to COVID-19, the tour was cancelled. In response, the LSO has been working with their partner promoters Kajimoto and the British Council in Japan to deliver a range of new initiatives for audiences and aspiring young musicians.

Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director of the LSO said, “I am delighted that the British Council and Kajimoto have joined forces with us to increase our output for audiences in Japan at a time when in many quarters there is an inevitable decline in international artistic activity. Our Japanese audiences will be the first to see a special concert of Bartók’s exhilarating opera Duke Bluebeard’s Castle with Gerald Finley singing the title role and Karen Cargill as his wife Judith. It is also heart-warming to be resuming our education programme which begun in 2018 as a cultural legacy handover project from the London Olympic Games as we set our sights on the 2021 Games.”

Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director of the LSO added, “The recording of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle was instrumental in getting the LSO back into playing together as
an orchestra after the longest break in its 117 year history. We rehearsed and performed this powerful piece at LSO St Luke’s in early September. I am thrilled with the outcome and hope that audiences enjoy watching it and listening to it, as much as we did performing it. It will always be a significant moment in time for all of us involved.”

This LSO project is one of the leading programmes for the 'UK in JAPAN', an ambitious joint initiative by the British Council and the British Embassy to strengthen further our bilateral relationship. The LSO concert launches an online festival called 'Culture Connects Us', run by the British Council, to facilitate dialogue between our creative sectors and to offer rich experiences of UK arts.

Matthew Knowles, Director of British Council Japan, comments,
‘We are delighted to celebrate the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement with this special concert. The vibrant cultural links between the UK and Japan are invaluable in nurturing friendship and mutual understanding. It is exciting to see the LSO develop new platforms to build their engagement with Japan, enabling audiences here to enjoy their work despite the current Covid-19 restrictions.’

Many new LSO Live recordings will be released over the coming months and the LSO is expanding its offering for young people with publication of the How to Build an Orchestra book. BL Publishing distributes the book and King International distributes LSO Live throughout Japan.

The summer 2021 activity in Japan by LSO Discovery is the next phase in of a programme that commenced in 2018 and engages with diverse members of the community through a collaboration between musicians of the LSO and musicians in Japan supported by the British Council Japan.

For further information
Christopher Millard, Head of Press & External Affairs London Symphony Orchestra M +44 7545502226 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Kajimoto website:

Notes for Editors

LSO Discovery/Japan
The LSO started its pioneering music education and community programme “Discovery” in 1990, aiming to engage and involve people of all ages and backgrounds in orchestral music and to open doors to the inspirational world of the LSO. In 2008, as an extension of Discovery, LSO On Track was launched, focusing specifically on the ten East London boroughs including the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games host boroughs, which enabled young musicians to access inspirational music making opportunities alongside LSO players and culminated in the performance at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

In the first stage of the legacy project in Japan, which took place in August 2018, Rachel Leach, LSO workshop leader and composer, trained a group of professional musicians in Japan to develop the skills and confidence necessary to lead a creative music making workshop for a diverse audience. Following the training, the Japanese musicians, joined by two LSO musicians and Rachel Leach, led a series of workshops and engaged with diverse groups (a mixed group of children of different ages and levels of musical experience; disabled children at a day care facility; and older people, including those living with dementia, at a care facility) to collaboratively create a piece of music. On 29 September in 2018, coinciding with the LSO's last Japan tour, they performed a newly composed piece in front of an audience.

The LSO continues to collaborate with the British Council Japan and build partnerships to expand the project in Japan in the run-up to 2021, aiming to engage diverse members of the community in the creation of music, and to see an increased number of Japanese musicians acting as leaders of creative education programmes in Japan.