About SKF Contents
Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto, which will be celebrated for the 22nd time this summer, features a wide variety of orchestra concerts, operas, chamber concerts and workshops, programs for children, and many other events, including the parade and subsequent performance at the castle by student and community wind ensemble groups who welcome the festival to Matsumoto City.

The festival was founded around and is centered on the Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO), which performs at it every year. The orchestra and festival are named to commemorate the memory of a music teacher who was also co-founder of the Toho Gakuen School of Music, Hideo Saito. The orchestra had its birth in 1984 when Saito's former students assembled from around the globe to perform a concert on the 10th anniversary of his death. Although originally limited to students of Saito, members have always come from the great orchestras of Europe, the United States and Japan. In its early years, the group toured Europe four times, following upon which Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto was founded in 1992. In addition to Europe, the SKO has toured China, and it played at Carnegie Hall both in 1991 and 2011.

Seiji Ozawa, another student of Saito, has directed the festival since its inception and there, he and other conductors have led the SKO in numerous concerts over the years. Aside from repertory works by Bach, Schubert, Mahler, Bruckner, and the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Brahms, the orchestra is also know for its performances of the work of Toru Takemitsu. At the 2007 festival the SKO gave the world premiere of a commission by Henri Dutilleux, Le temps l'horloge, with Renee Fleming singing the soprano solo. The world-renowned artists who have participated in the festival over the years are innumerable, and in particular Mstislav Rostropovich and Robert Mann have been frequent guests. Chamber concerts are also given every season, with the highly varied programs largely chosen and performed by different SKO members. The festival develops opera productions of its own, as well as often collaborating in co-productions with places like the Opera National de Paris and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Operas, choral concerts and other productions at the festival have included Oedipus Rex, Jeanne d'Arc au bucher, Verdi's Requiem, Rake's Progress, Les mamelles de Tirésias, St. Matthew Passion, Dialogues des Carmelites, La Damnation de Faust, Jenufa, Peter Grimes, Falstaff, Wozzeck, Guerrelieder, Elijah, The Queen of Spades, The Cunning Little Vixen, War Requiem, Salome, and Bluebeard's Castle.

Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto honors its roots in musical education by providing a variety of workshops for young musicians, culminating in recitals put on for the general public, and every year there is an opera production and concerts designed specifically with the goal of introducing classical music to children.