A JAPANESE choir will sing in Huddersfield on Friday in what is their first trip outside Japan for some of them.
Fifty-five members of the Osaka Symphonic Choir have flown across the world to join Huddersfield Choral Society on stage in Huddersfield Town Hall.
The choir arrived in Yorkshire late on Monday night and last night was rehearsing with the Choral Society.
It is a trip which has brought much excitement to both choirs and mirrors a trip to Japan made almost three years ago by the Choral.
In 2007, more than 90 singers from the Choral Society flew to Japan to sing Britten’s War Requiem in what proved a milestone event in the choir’s history.
Now the choir is to welcome singers making the return trip from Osaka, Japan’s second city which has a population of more than eight million.
Tetsu Kobara, who sings bass in the choir, said: "I’m very excited to be performing, I’m very happy to be here."
The 72-year-old, who is visiting England for the second time, added: "I like Huddersfield as well."
The Choral’s publicity officer, Sarah Wickham – who sings soprano in the choir and was one of those who went to Japan – said: "A lot of the choir members who went to Japan have kept in touch with singers from Osaka by email and so on.
"I would certainly go back to Japan. It is the most fantastic country and its people are so welcoming.
"We have about 55 singers with us this week and another handful of family or friends. They are staying in Leeds so they can visit places such as York, Haworth and the Lake District while they are here. Some have never been out of Japan before."
Few of the Osaka singers are fluent in English, but have been busy learning Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus in preparation for the trip.
The choir has already sung the piece in Osaka and will join Huddersfield Choral Society to perform it in Huddersfield, conducted by Takuo Yuasa with the Manchester Camerata.
Mr Yuasa said: "It’s great to have this co-operation between the choirs in Huddersfield and Japan."
It is thought the links between the two choirs came about thanks to Patrick Garvey, whose music artist agency includes both the Choral and the Osaka-born conductor, Takuo Yuasa.
But it is clear the two choirs have made firm friendships, starting with the warm flag-waving welcome Huddersfield’s singers received when they arrived in Japan three years ago and the rapturous reception they won from a 2,800 strong audience in Osaka.
In Huddersfield they will sing Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, last sung by the Choral 20 years ago.
The oratorio includes the well-known tune now usually sung to the Easter hymn "Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son".
There will be a reception for the Japanese visitors at Huddersfield University after Friday’s concert.
Osaka Symphonic Choir factfile:
The choir formed just over 30 years ago
It now has 173 members
Although many do not speak English, they learn the words to English pieces by heart
They have travelled almost 6,000 miles to be here
They usually perform just one concert per year