ANN/THE STAR – Japanese conductor Naohisa Furusawa was really busy last weekend as the conductor for the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s (MPO). The MPO has two resident conductors, Naohisa and Gerard Salonga, and the former was front-and-centre for the recently-concluded Symphonic Anime show series.
What began as a one-night only show last Saturday turned into four, with the addition of performances. All shows sold out. Over 3,600 people attended the four shows at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (DFP) in Kuala Lumpur.
For the MPO, it’s not the first time orchestral performances featuring popular Japanese anime soundtracks and theme songs have sold out.
Although it may be surprising to some to learn this, the Toyko-born Naohisa had no doubts at all about the show’s reception. “It was no surprise for me as all our past anime concerts have sold out previously, and I want to thank all our anime music fans out there for their support over the years,” he said.
Naohisa had already experienced this when he officially turned MPO’s resident conductor in 2016 with A Musical Journey In Anime which sold-out for four nights and most recently in March this year with Totoro Goes To The Carnival. Both shows featured the music of the famed Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi and his music for Studio Ghibli film productions.
And there is, without a doubt, still a thirst for the music from Studio Ghibli’s movies which take up the bulk of the performance in the latest Symphonic Anime show.
There was music from many popular anime titles including Princess Mononoke, Gake No Ue No Ponyo, Spirited Away, Laputa and Kiki’s Delivery Service.
It also featured the music from Grave Of The Fireflies, One Piece, Naruto Shipudden, Attack On Titan: Guren no Yumiya and rather surprisingly, Ultraseven. If you’re familiar with Japanese pop culture, then you would be aware of Ultraman which does not fall in the anime category since it is a live-action series – Ultraseven is part of an early incarnation of the Japanese TV series which made its debut in 1967.
“When I was growing up in Japan, I read a lot of manga and watched anime. I am a huge anime fan, and I particularly enjoyed the work of Fujiko F Fujio, who created Doraemon.
Aside from this, there are also many other wonderful works that I am fond of.
“Although the Ultraman series is not anime, I watched a lot of it growing up and for that reason, I decided to perform Ultraseven songs for the Symphonic Anime concert,” explained Naohisa. As for how the music was selected for the concert, the conductor revealed, “It was a decision made by myself and the MPO’s management team’s suggestions.
“As a result, we combined our ideas and made difficult decisions on which works to play and which to keep for maybe next year.”