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Michi Hirata North made her p... Michi Hirata North made her piano debut in 1938 as an eight-year-old prodigy.
Let me share the story of some of why Michi Hirata North, pianist, is performing this “Beiju” (88th birthday celebration) event and honoring Hidemaro Konoye with her Town Hall concert on this 2019 November 10th. There are three main reasons.

The first is that Mr. Tanaka, temporarily in New York, saw Sam Goto’s cartoons of Michi for her last concert at Meany in the North Am Post four-years-ago. Tanaka-san emailed me and said he had been looking for Michi and would I send her contact information to him. Subsequently, he returned to Japan and shared the CD with his friend Mr. Tawara - whose work was diplomatic relationships with Russia, but his hobby is of collecting a vast amount of memorabilia of historical musical professionals in Japan.

Mr Tahara wrote Michi saying, “I saw you perform as a teenager in the late 1940s. I’ve been looking for you for 65 years.” Michi is one of the only ones still living from the WWII era of well known musicians. Mr. Tawara has close relationship with They immediately produced CDs for distribution from Michi’s concert. The studio executives are excited about getting an even better recording for posterity. Tanaka-san called Michi in September to say he is coming for the concert, from Japan.

The second reason for this concert is Michi reconnecting with the granddaughter of Hidemaro Konoye and the Konoye Foundation of Music. Hidemaro was the younger brother of Fumimaro Konoe (don’t know the reason for different spelling of last name). Michi was in their home on December 17, 1945, when Fujimaro committed honorable suicide as the pre-war Prime Minister of Japan who got Japan into the war with the United States.

Hidemaro was Michi’s father’s best friend. They studied in Germany together in the 1920s. Konoye is known for founding the New Symphony Orchestra of Tokyo (the present day NHK Symphony Orchestra). At the end of WWII in Germany, Konoye as one of the guest conductors of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra was isolated by the US government as the US/Japan war was still raging. He was repatriated through New York and chose to return to Michi’s home.

Michi was 13-years-old when Konoye was staying in their home in Tokyo and now she says: “Up to his visit to our home in 1945, I was obediently practicing, but Konoye inspired me to become more excited about music and performing. I traveled all over Japan with him and his orchestra from ages 14 to 18.” Michi is honoring Konoye with his orchestral composition for Chopin Piano Concerto No. 1.

The third and most remarkable part of the event is that Michi is turning 88-years-old this December 2019. Imagine, playing two 40-minute concertos, all on one November 10th Sunday afternoon and we get to be there??

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