Maestro Chosei Komatsu, artistic director of the National Symphony for the last seven years, last week was treated to a despedida, Japanese-style, at the elegant western San José residence of Japanese Ambassador Hidekazu Yamaguchi and his wife, Motoko Yamaguchi.
After a long career in Canada and Costa Rica, Komatsu is returning to Japan to conduct and teach at a university.
Komatsu accepted the appreciative praise heaped on him with modest good humor. Yamaguchi extolled the maestro’s merits, in particular his passion for conducting, and his contribution to “deepening the mutual understanding between Japan and Costa Rica through music,” especially during a successful tour of the Costa Rican symphony in Japan. Former Culture Minister María Elena Carballo lauded the conductor for introducing the orchestra to more challenging, contemporary composers and helping it to develop musically. Thanks to Komatsu, the concertgoing public here has been treated to “an infinity of world-renowned soloists,” she said, including Japanese violinist Midori Goto.
After the ambassador formally presented him with a certificate of appreciation, Komatsu took up the microphone instead of his usual baton and spoke about his seven years in Costa Rica, noting how impressed he was from his very first visit as a candidate conductor with the orchestra’s high standard and commitment to making music.
“The last seven years really changed my life, and actually taught me how to hear the music and interpret the musical scores,” Komatsu said.
One of his fondest memories is a concert tour of the northwestern Guanacaste province, where the orchestra traveled to many small towns.
“We were treated like rock stars wherever we went,” Komatsu recalled. “Each night after the concert there was a wonderful dinner and dancing, and I learned that I am the worst dancer.”
Along with that revelation, the assembled guests also heard the news that Ambassador Yamaguchi, who has been here three years, is leaving Costa Rica in September, bound for a new posting in Rome as Japan’s ambassador to the Vatican.
Concertgoers still have several more chances to see Komatsu lead the National Symphony at the National Theater in San José: Oct. 8 and 10, featuring music by Glinka, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky; Nov. 5 and 7, with a Beethoven program; and Nov. 19 and 21 for an evening of Mahler.