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LIFE IN JAPAN
Marcel L' Esperance

Marcel L'EsperanceOccupation:
Choral Director
Time in Japan:
22 years






Choral directing is a labor of love. You have to be crazy about performing music. When I was in college, I worked under Alexander Pelliquen in the States who was a composer, choral director and an all-round great musician. He would have his Chorale perform on a religious radio program in Boston. It just touched me and after that I didn't want to do anything else.

When I first came to Japan I sang with the Sacred Music Society here, but I didn't enjoy it. The Japanese directors were extremely methodical. My wife, Carol, and I tried other choirs but we didn't feel comfortable. The only time we enjoyed our experiences was when there was a foreign conductor. One day we looked at each other and decided we should create our own group. That's how the Tokyo International Singers started 18 years ago.

Now I direct four choirs including the Tokyo International Singers, the Chiba International Singers, the International Women's Choir and our select group, the L'Esperance Singers. Most of my days are spent planning and doing things that I guess you would consider secretarial work, answering the phones, reserving the halls, copying information, or meeting with the printers to discuss the program layout. I also go to the huge lottery every year for the limited public performance spaces in Tokyo. You take a number and hope for the best. We have been lucky so far.

I try to feature one major work a year. Over the last 17 years we have done almost every classic piece in the choral repertoire from Dvorak to Bach. This year we are performing Handel's Israel in Egypt at Suntory Hall in May. I choose the works by my taste, but more importantly I have to gauge the work to the singers. I can't choose a piece with an extreme soprano end if my chorus is made up of women in their fifties. And inevitably I will have too few men, which is a shame. In the States some choirs have given up four-part works altogether, opting for three-part works to address the problem. We haven't.

The Japanese are truly choral people. Every city or town from Hokkaido to Kyushu has a choral group along with numerous smaller community choirs.
The All-Japan Choral League is a huge collective of all these groups which hosts a yearly festival and has a tremendous resource library in Ebisu for choral directors. Voice-wise, the Japanese are pretty average but they just love to sing. In general, the public has a refined awareness for music, based on the grass-roots music culture here in Japan. It makes choral work here fulfilling and, of course, fun.

For more information about the Tokyo International Singers call 044-833-9258.

Do you know an interesting person in Tokyo? E-mail us at editor@tokyoclassified.com

LIFE IN JAPAN:
199: Diane Morris
Media & Advertising
198: Ross Mihara
NHK Sumo Announcer
196: Corky Alexander
Tokyo Weekender
195: Edward Obaidey
Acupuncturist
194: Merry Angel
Managing Director
193: Alison Pockett
Managing Partner
192: Zack Konno
Car Export Representive
191: Pamela S. Caudill
Assistant U.S. Customs
190: Caroline Power
Being a Broad
189: Geoffrey Tudor
P.R. Section Chief JAL
188: Ryuko Ishikawa M.D.
Family Psychiatrist
187: Georges Hassam
Arabic Dance Instructor
186: Larry London
DJ at InterFM
185: Richard James
Photographer & Writer
184: Alan Kidd
Rock Musician & Editor
183: Adam Hitchens
Mobile Hairdresser/Masseur
182: Lylian de la Vega
Volunteer
181: Annie Chang
Computer Training
180: Mike Jacobs
Writer/Photojournalist
179: Jimmy Angel
Rock'n'Roll Singer
178: Dante
Performer
177: Elizabeth Spencer
Tokyo Classified Intern
175: Paul E. Ainlay
Proprietor of D.B. Cooper's
174: Steve Bindon
Artist
173: Nanae Nagata & Naji Rahman
Proprietors of Heart Cocktail
172: Tom Holiday
Singer/Guitarist
171: Gordon Hutchingson
Copywriter
170: Barry Cardinal
Renshi Aikido Instructor
169: Tammy
Hostess
168: Steve Feldman
Computer Dealer
167: Eve Suter
Flower Designer
166: Paul Goldsmith
Computer/H.R. Consultant
165: Avry Gottesman
Auto Dealer
164: Russell Pollard
Financial Advisor
163: Sa'dia
Belly Dancer
162: Marcel L'Esperance
Choral Director
161: Gregg Alan
Used Motorcycle/Car Dealer
160: Dr. Greg Sapplers OMD
Oriental Medical Doctor
159: Ute Ikuta
Cat Lover
158: Pam Adkins
Shaw College
157: Cloudy Bong Water
Comedian/Performer/Teacher
156: Melissa
Internet Company Director
155: Paul Gibson
Proprietor, The Fiddler Pub
154: Ann Spiers
Psychotherapist
153: Evans M. Asare
Chef
152: Sandy Weiss
Acting Teacher
150: Kike
Dancer

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