For Dallas Chamber Symphony’s concertmaster, each concert is a musical journey
North Texans are no strangers to long commutes, but few endure the transpacific commute Kazuhiro Takagi, Dallas Chamber Symphony’s concertmaster, makes to get to his job. Preparing for the orchestra’s Nov. 6 concert at the Moody Performance Hall in the Dallas Arts District involves navigating a carefully planned schedule.
“It’s pretty tight,” Takagi said.
Traveling for his career is nothing new for the Tokyo-based violinist who speaks four languages. Born in Osaka, Japan, Takagi began playing the violin at age 5. After graduating from high school, he first seriously considered a career in classical music at the urging of Yuko Mori, his mentor at Conservatoire National Superieur in Lyon.
“She encouraged me to dive into a musical career and that’s how I made that big decision,” Takagi said.
Eventually, the graduate of Deuxieme Academie de Musique Francaise de Kyoto spent a year in Paris, exploring the culture and participating in several competitions. At one of those competitions, he met Dr. Eduard Schmieder, a professor at Southern Methodist University. Schmieder strongly recommended Takagi study with him in Dallas.
“It was a great achievement to study with him because he gave me a lot of great advice. He served on the jury of many international competitions and he was a great connection,” Takagi said.
Since leaving SMU, Takagi has developed an impressive international career, winning the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition and the 54th Geneva International Music Competition. He has served as concertmaster for the Tokyo Symphony, Chicago Civic Orchestra and the solo concertmaster of the Yamagata Symphony and Wuerttembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen in Germany. He has also held positions with the Osaka Philharmonic, Osaka Symphony, Japan Century Symphony, Vietnam National Symphony and the Kansai Philharmonic. He currently works with Nagaokakyo Chamber Ensemble in Kyoto, Izumi Sinfonietta Osaka, Lilis Chamber Orchestra and an alternative music group, A Hundred Birds.
He credits modern technology for bringing him back to Dallas.
“It was through Facebook, indeed.” Takagi said. “Thinking about the time I studied in Dallas or France, it was not even imaginable to have such connections through your cellphone.”
An SMU classmate sent him a message through Facebook Messenger, explaining that he was playing with the Dallas Chamber Symphony and the orchestra needed a new concertmaster. His classmate introduced him to Richard McKay, the orchestra’s conductor, through social media. Takagi has been working with the Dallas Chamber Symphony for five years.
He has developed a fine-tuned routine for his Dallas visits. For the orchestra’s Oct. 13 concert, Takagi arrived on Thursday, Oct. 11. On Friday, he had a full day rehearsal from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday included a two-hour dress rehearsal and the concert that evening. He flew back to Tokyo on Sunday.
As a concertmaster, Takagi adapts quickly to assess the conductor’s priorities and create the essential team to make the performance a success.
“The concertmaster always sits in the best position to accommodate what the conductor wants to do,” Takagi said.
Takagi remembers his teacher’s advice about being a concertmaster and communicating with musicians sitting behind him.
“She often said to me, ‘If you want to be a good concertmaster, one thing which lacks in your playing is that I don’t feel what you want from your back,’” Takagi said. “My entire aura must express something.”
With the Dallas Chamber Symphony, Takagi enjoys the challenge of playing original scores with silent films.
“It’s interesting to play, to participate in the movie I’ve seldom seen in my life. Every time I play for movies, it’s a big discovery for me too and a great experience,” Takagi said. “It’s a special experience as a musician to fit in the action of the picture. You have to have a special skill, a theater skill, not just a performer skill. Very few people master this skill because they simply don’t have this experience very often. Not only do you have to fit the timing of the motion of the picture, but you have to get the feeling and texture of the sound to fit the mood.”
The concert on Nov. 6 promises to be another kind of voyage, featuring Bartók’s Romanian Folk Dances, Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Souvenir de Florence.
“It’s kind of an unusual combination of a program, very diverse,” Takagi said. “It’s kind of like a big journey through Hungary, Germany and Russia.”
But music isn’t the only thing Takagi will enjoy when he is in Dallas.
“I love American food! It’s so homey,” Tagaki said.
Learn more about Dallas Chamber Symphony: https://www.dcsymphony.org/