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Last on

Thu 2 May 2013 21:00 BBC Radio 4

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 30 April 2013

The BBC Philharmonic was in Japan when the earthquake hit in 2011, and they were forced to abandon the country. Now they are returning for an emotional tour of the cities they should have visited.

In 2011, as one member of the orchestra put it, "We were having a very successful tour and then it shook'.

The musicians were on the top of a suspension bridge when the earthquake happened, and felt lucky to escape with their lives. When the seriousness of the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant was made public, the decision was taken to leave the country as quickly as possible. Many of the musicians felt that they were abandoning the Japanese, and were reluctant to go. Now they have a chance to return to Japan with the same repertoire as the original tour.

How will the musicians react to going back to a country where many of them had been deeply upset by the experiences of 2011? And does their music help a nation still coming to terms with the traumatic events of 2011?

We join the BBC Philharmonic in Tokyo as they prepare to play the music of both sadness and survival throughout the concert halls of Japan.

Producer Mark Rickards.


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