Takasaki in 1945 reflected much of the aftermath of the war-torn country. Amid the post-war devastation, the Takasaki Citizen's Orchestra was created. It was the first of this kind in Japan. The City of Takasaki was aiming at restoring the city by way of cultural activities such as by full-fledged orchestra music. In 1955, a movie was made out of Gunkyo, which became a blockbuster hit and made Gunkyo very famous. The following year, Gunma Prefecture was designated as a model prefecture for music by the Ministry of Education.
Gunkyo's Ido Ongaku Kyoshitsu is now a household name in Gunma. As of 1981, a system was set up to make sure all elementary and junior high schoolers will have a chance to attend a Gunkyo concert at least once in three years. By 2014, a total of 6.3 million students enjoyed Gunkyo's concerts, which underpin Gunma's classical music and orchestra culture.
Gunkyo is a very prominent orchestra and offers a variety of concerts throughout the year. They invite first-class artists both in and outside of the country to their regular concerts. Gunkyo plays in municipalities as well as offers more than 30 concerts at the request of private businesses and organizations in Gunma. As for kindergartens and senior high schools, they give concerts upon request. Other programs offered by Gunkyo include musical instrument seminars and members' visits to local facilities.
Gunkyo celebrated its 70th anniversary in the 2015-16 year. A total of 13,200 guests enjoyed music by a full professional orchestra in regular concerts in this year alone. To commemorate the occasion, Gunkyo offered the opera, "Madam Butterfly" in Kiryu and Maebashi, and tickets were sold out.
Like world-famous artists who give free concerts in Central Park in Manhattan, Gunkyo offers a free concert every year at the Gunma-no-mori Park in Takasaki. This concert started in 1978 as part of its efforts to make Gunkyo an accessible orchestra. Seeing many families with small children really enjoy the orchestra music on the vast expanse of lawn under the bright sunlight of May, I thought their hard work and commitment had paid off.
Gunkyo is based in Takasaki and travels frequently throughout the prefecture. Concert tickets are reasonably-priced, so why not go to one of the concerts this year?
Gunma Symphony Orchestra Office
17th Floor, Takasaki City Hall
35-1 Takamatsu-cho, Takasaki
Phone: 027-322-4944 10:00-18:00 (On weekdays and in Japanese language only)