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Joint event with Harvard Club of Japan

Mr Thierry Porte, President of Harvard Club of Japan and President and CEO of Shinsei Bank kindly made Shinsei Bank’s magnificent 20th-floor Reception Hall available for this event. The hall overlooks Hibiya Park and commands spectacular views of central Tokyo. It also has an excellent acoustic, which was fortuitous as we had the pleasure of the company of The Choir of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge for the evening.

This was the second joint event we have held with Harvard Club. The first was a party at Tokyo American Club in July, 2003, which was gracefully attended by T.I.H. the Crown Prince and Princess. They were unfortunately unable to join us this time.

I imagined that we would be competing with Harvard Club on the attendance front, as we did in 2003. That contest resulted in a draw (sixty-something from each side), but this time they offered little competition: 15 Harvard members and guests vs. 95 C&O members and guests! There were five no-shows (2 Harvard [one of them a guest] and 3 C&O [two of them guests]), leaving 147 of the 152 people on the list in attendance. The figures include the 28 visitors from St Catharine’s together with 14 members of the Tokyo Baroque Choir, who were hosting St Catharine’s Choir while they were in Tokyo.

Drinks were served from 6.30, and a little after 7 p.m. Thierry Porte made a speech of welcome on behalf of Harvard Club and Shinsei Bank. Martin Hatfull, British Chargé d’Affaires, replied on behalf of C&O. With the twilit Tokyo skyline in the background, the Choir then performed the first of their slots under their Director, Dr Edward Wickham. The programme included two anthems by Gibbons and Byrd and a set of three anthems by Stanford. This created a somber, contemplative atmosphere rather untypical of C&O events but appreciated all the more for its rarity. It was complemented by a moving performance of Schubert’s Improptu in G flat by Ben Winstanley, one of the choir’s tenors, on the piano. Charles Crawford, a former senior bursar of St Catharine’s College accompanying the Choir on their tour, then made a short speech on behalf of the College and presented gifts to the organizers of the event (Porte, Nakamura and Minton).

A large buffet selection had been laid out since the beginning of the reception, but it was only at this point that people started to make a dent in it, and the atmosphere soon became far less somber. At around 8.15, a former member of St Catharine’s Choir and current member of C&O, Teruhiko Nasu, was called to the stage to join the Choir in their second performance of the evening. This consisted of a selection of lighter music, mainly arrangements of English and Japanese folksongs, which was again much appreciated by all.

There was no great rush to leave at the appointed time (9 p.m.), but around 15 stragglers, including Edward Wickham, eventually repaired to a nearby Irish pub.

TDM, July 2006

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Wed, 2006-07-12 15:00.
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