Table Speech

Classic Live Concerts for 1 Million People

September 4, 2019

Mr. Shusaku Minoda
Representative Director,
Classic Live for Millions

 I worked in the financial business for over 40 years and lived a typical banker’s life. I spent much of my time on golf and tennis and had little to do with classic music. You might wonder why I launched the “Classic Live Concerts for 1 Million People”

 First, let me introduce the outline of this project. We provide the so-called hand-made delivery service of classic concerts. Our goal is to deliver live classic music to 1 million people each year across Japan. The concerts are held not in large halls but anywhere provided by the organizers whom we call “Arrangers” consisting of individuals, organizations or enterprises across Japan who approve the intention and concept of our project. Currently we have over 100 arrangers who provide their facilities as concert venues including hotel lobbies, temples, coffee shops, restaurants, schools and office rooms. Basically, one pianist and one string instrument (violin, viola or cello) player play in a pair for one hour without intermission to the audience of 50 to 70, at most 100. There are three business models: one is to charge 1,000 yen to the audience, the second is the Arrangers provide the venue and invite audience free of charge, and the third is the Sponsors bear 50,000 yen plus travel expenses for the musicians. The reason why I set the entrance fee at 1,000 yen was because after conducting some research, I found out the annual income of half of the Japanese working population is less than 2.5 million yen and thought 1,000 yen would be still affordable for them. Junior high school students and younger children are free of charge. We welcome babies as well and hope child-rearing parents have the opportunity to enjoy music.

 I have to confess it was only at the age of 62 when I was mesmerized by an 18-year-old violinist who guided me to the world of classic music. I was overwhelmed by the tones I had never experienced before. He was Mr. Seiji Okamoto, then a freshman of Tokyo University of the Arts. Three years later he was awarded the 1st prize at the International Bach Competition for the first time as a Japanese and he is now a member of our project.

 In order to nurture one musician, a violinist for an instance, parents will invest about 20 million yen as the practice starts as early as 3 years of age up to 23 years. Every year 16,000 to 20,000 students graduate from music universities in Japan. That is to say during 30 years about 500,000 musicians have been generated with a total investment reaching 10 trillion yen. They are in a way our national asset. On the other hand, I learned that young musicians have not much opportunities to play at concerts. In spite of their strenuous effort and practice they are not blessed with the chance to perform in front of an audience. Sadly enough, 90 % of them have no choice but to quit music. In other words, 9 trillion yen of investment is poured down the drain.

 This issue overlapped with my anxiety I had harbored for a long time. I lived in London for 8 years from 1990 and looked at Japan from outside. I realized that local communities and the Japanese society as a whole were weakened after the 1990s due to individualism. While we achieved economic growth, individualism accelerated and we are witnessing serious repercussions today. There are a number of disturbing incidents reported frequently such as parents killing children or children killing parents. Child abuse, truancy and bullying are everyday affairs. Or else hikikomori (withdrawal) syndrome is serious not only for young people but also for adults. If people are more connected in the community or in the neighborhood, these tragedies might have been perceived in advance and prevented. I aimed to create the world where people are closely connected by leveraging the power of music, together with a 10-trillion-yen-investment benefitting talented musicians as well as Arrangers across Japan. My enthusiasm to create 21st-century-style new communities through heart-warming music played at a close range has made me what I am today.

 In order to achieve classic live concerts for 1 million people, we need to host 20,000 concerts a year, participated by 50 in average, which means 67 or 68 concerts a day. If we hold concerts in all 47 prefectures every day, we will be able to achieve our goal and it will also be beneficial and effective to build close-knit communities.

 Last year over 100 Arrangers hosted 432 concerts participated by 22,521 people. I would like to increase the frequency of concerts to 20,000 so that I will be able to achieve my dream of providing Classic Live Concerts for 1 Million People. Let me conclude my speech by asking for your generous support. Thank you.