Special Interview

Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi(Suntory Hall President) and Caroline Kennedy(U.S. Ambassador to Japan)

Pursuing the world’s most beautiful sound

Suntory Hall celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2016. It is a highly regarded venue both in Japan and internationally as a pioneer in the music industry. Here to talk about music in commemoration of this milestone is Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, who often comes to Suntory Hall to enjoy music concerts, and Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, who is a leading Japanese cellist and Suntory Hall President.

Suntory Hall President Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi (hereafter, T. Tsutsumi)

We would like to welcome you to Suntory Hall today. You often come to our concert hall to enjoy music.

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy (hereafter, C. Kennedy)

One of the unexpected discoveries I have made as US Ambassador is how much I love symphonic music – and that is because Suntory Hall is just around the corner from my house. I have been to more concerts in Tokyo in two years than in the past ten years in New York City. The best American orchestras have come to Tokyo – I have been to performances by the NY Phil, BSO, Philadelphia, as well as by the Tokyo Philharmonic and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. Suntory Hall is beautiful both acoustically and visually, and attending concerts here has enriched my life enormously.

T. Tsutsumi

Thank you very much. When we opened our doors 30 years ago, classical music was viewed by most people in Japanese society as something that was to be listened to in solemn respect, but it was different at Suntory Hall. The Japanese term for the word music is ongaku for which the kanji characters mean “to enjoy sound.” Our wish was to create a beautiful place for people to relax and enjoy music, stand in the foyer with a glass in one hand discussing the joys and emotions felt during the performances, and allow the connections between people to grow. We have strived to turn Suntory Hall into a social meeting place.

  • Charles Dutoit Conducts Boston Symphony Orchestra (2014)
  • Alan Gilbert Conducts New York Philharmonic (2014)
For children to be able to share an artistic experience with the people they love holds very special significance.

C. Kennedy

All the musicians I speak to tell me that Japanese audiences are the best! They are passionate, knowledgeable and loyal. I have heard this from jazz and rock and roll musicians like Herbie Hancock and Jon Bon Jovi, as well as from classical music icons like Yo-Yo Ma. Japanese audiences show enthusiastic gratitude and appreciation for a great performance, and it is no wonder that musicians always perform at least one encore in return. There is a deep love of the performing arts in this country which makes it a special privilege to serve here as Ambassador.

T. Tsutsumi

You listen to a wide range of music from classical music to jazz and rock and roll.

C. Kennedy

I grew up in the 1970s and I love rock and roll. My husband is a jazz aficionado and my children keep me current on hip-hop. Because I don't speak Japanese, attending musical performances is a great way to experience Japanese culture and Japanese audiences and also enjoy music. In addition to attending classical concerts at Suntory Hall, I have been to a PERFUME concert at Tokyo Dome and I saw HatsuneMiku at the Budokan.

T. Tsutsumi

That’s wonderful. You enjoy such a diverse range of music together with your family. What kind of music did you listen to as a child?

C. Kennedy

When I was little, my brother and I used to play a record of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” when we were eating supper and I still hum Peter’s music when I am happy. And throughout my childhood, my mother took me to the ballet. As I grew up, I realized how much those experiences had meant to me and how important it is to share artistic experiences with the people you love. I have tried to introduce my own children to the arts in the same way.

T. Tsutsumi

I agree with you. At Suntory Hall, we continuously hold educational music programs for children including the regularly-held Subscription Concert for Children, the Organ Adventure which includes a backstage tour, events that allow children to enjoy a combination of art and music, and so on. Nothing brings me more joy than to see that the children have a special and unforgettable experience here.

  • Tokyo Symphony & Suntory Hall Subscription Concert for Children
  • Suntory Art Kids Club Workshop & Concert for Kids
Placing value on a culture of mutual resonance and respecting our artistic heritage as we take on new challenges.

C. Kennedy

For ten years before I became Ambassador, I worked in the New York City public schools. Arts-education was one of the areas that I concentrated on. There are more than 1.1.million students in NYC schools and they speak more than 140 languages at home. The arts, and music in particular, can bring children together, teach them the power of listening and give them a chance to share with their classmates what is most important in their culture.
The arts help children to experience joy, find their own voice, develop their interests, and discover their passion. Most of us won’t be talented enough to perform at Suntory Hall but if we experience the arts when we are young, we learn to value creativity and imagination, we feel the emotion of the composer or artist and we communicate across time and space to discover our common humanity.

T. Tsutsumi

Suntory Hall marks its 30th anniversary with the message, “Hibiki to the World,” through which we wish to emphasize the great role that a culture of resonance plays in bringing the world together. As a leading concert hall, we are expected to respect our artistic heritage as we continue to take on new challenges. Our hope is to support the young generation of artists and new music in order to propel the Japanese and international music industry forward.

C. Kennedy

In the 21 century, cultural citizenship is going to be vitally important in our increasingly fragmented world. Places like Suntory Hall which celebrate the human spirit have a critical role to play. Your commitment to excellence and the work you do to pass on our artistic heritage to future generations is a gift to the world.

Caroline Bouvier Kennedy, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

On July 24, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Caroline Bouvier Kennedy to be the 29th Ambassador of the United States of America to Japan. She was confirmed by the Senate on Oct. 16 and assumed duty as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Japan following the presentation of her credentials to His Imperial Majesty the Emperor on Nov. 19, 2013. Ambassador Kennedy is the first female U.S. Ambassador to Japan.
Prior to her nomination, Ambassador Kennedy worked as a lawyer, author, and editor. She has authored, co-authored, or edited more than a dozen books, and has had articles published in the New York Times, Newsweek, and Time Magazine.
Ambassador Kennedy has committed her life to public service, including in education, for example serving as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and Honorary Director of The Fund for Public Schools, and as Chief Executive of the Office of Strategic Partnerships of the New York City Department of Education. She has also served on the board of numerous non-profit organizations, boards, and foundations.
Ambassador Kennedy holds a B.A. degree in Fine Arts from Harvard University and a J.D. degree from Columbia University. She is the daughter of John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States of America, and First Lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. She is married to Dr. Edwin Arthur Schlossberg, an artist and designer. Ambassador Kennedy and Dr. Schlossberg have three adult children.

Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi - Cellist

Tsuyoshi Tsutsumi, an artist who can “add something akin to a spiritual quality (The Herald Times)” to the music, is one of the most notable musicians of his generation and respected mentors of cello performance.
Since the debut at the age of 12 with the Tokyo Philharmonic and winning the 1963 International Casals Competition in Budapest, Tsutsumi has performed with the renowned orchestras such as the ORTF, the Berlin Radio Symphony, the Concertgebouw, the Rotterdam, Munich and Warsaw philharmonics and the Chicago, Indianapolis and Vancouver symphonies. One of the most impressive appearances with many great conductors was a concert telecast worldwide at the United Nations with the Toho Gakuen Orchestra conducted by Seiji Ozawa.
He is also a champion of premiering new music by Japanese composers, such as Toru Takemitsu, Akira Miyoshi, Toshiro Mayuzumi, just naming a few. Touring the globe as soloist, he also busies himself as an educator, leading master classes in US, France, Netherlands, Canada, Taiwan and other Asian countries.
After the almost 20 year tenure as Faculty of the Indiana University, he contributed to his Alma Mater, Toho Gakuen School of Music as President for nine years. He is now Music Director of Kirishima International Music Festival(2000-) and President of Suntory Hall(2007-).
He is a recipient of National Academy of Arts Prize in music by the Emperor, Japan's Medal with Purple Ribbon, the highest honor in Japan and awarded Person of Cultural Merit in 2013. He has been a member of the Japan Art Academy since 2009.