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Seiji Ozawa/SKO & JAXA Joint Initiative





Dec. 1st 12:00JST




Seiji Ozawa conducts the Saito Kinen Orchestra (SKO) for the first time in four years to deliver Beethoven’s “Egmont” Overture LIVE 

to astronaut Koichi Wakata on the International Space Station (ISS)

For the first time in history, an orchestra performance will resonate in outer space.

Those of us on earth will unite.

“Language, borders, culture, age, and gender are irrelevant in sensing that music is beautiful and joyous.” This is the belief of conductor Seiji Ozawa, who has been active for over 50 years internationally on the front lines of Tokyo and Matsumoto, as well as Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Milan, London, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, New York, and more.

Aiming to pursue and integrate the most advanced scientific technologies, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) continues to take on life-risking challenges while coordinating with astronauts from different countries on ISS.


The raging novel coronavirus that has spread around the world; the suffering, and sadness from the war in Europe—as we face this difficult era, now is not the time for division; now is the time to help and cooperate with each other as fellow citizens of Earth.

Music can transcend words, borders, ethnicities, and the atmosphere 

to directly connect the hearts of people.


All of us as living beings on Earth are the same, and we are one.

The One Earth Mission is a project to spread this message by delivering the sound that is the light of Seiji Ozawa and the Saito Kinen Orchestra to ISS “Kibo (Hope)” with the cooperation of JAXA.


In Japan’s history of human space activities, JAXA marks its 30th anniversary in 2022 since astronaut Mamoru Mohri took his first space mission. The Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival, which is the home of the Saito Kinen Orchestra, also marks its 30th anniversary this year.


Music performed by 87-year-old Seiji Ozawa with the SKO, which has a strong, pure, and the deepest connection to him, and which could be referred to as his musical family, will transcend all barriers—gender, age, ethnicity, and borders—to connect the hearts of people.


That music will reach astronaut Koichi Wakata in space, and we will sense on a global scale that we all live on the same planet—One Earth Mission.

若田光一_Koichi Wakata_profile photo_(c) JAXA_NASA_Bill Stafford.jpg


©JAXA/NASA/Bill Stafford

It has been 30 years since a JAXA astronaut first went on a space mission. During these 30 years, space activities not only in Japan but throughout the world have made remarkable progress. The International Space Station as well, where I am currently staying, was built about ten years ago and has been used for a range for experiments and to regularly host astronauts from different countries. As for me, this is my fifth stay in space, from where I gaze at my home of Earth.


I have been given the good fortune of listening to an orchestra performance from Earth while I am here at ISS. This is a historic first. I value “Hearts in Harmony,” and this JAXA & Saito Kinen Orchestra joint project is an embodiment of “Scientific technology and music transcends all barriers to bring happiness to humankind.” I sense that this has the power to unite the world.


As we live in an era with many challenges, I believe that this project will impart courage and hope. Music has the power to transcend words, borders, ethnicities, and the atmosphere to connect the hearts of people. I am grateful for the opportunity to share this moment to sense that harmony. Our beautiful planet Earth—the home for us today and children of the future. I hope for peace in the universe that embraces Earth.

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Dr. Eng. Senior Advisor and Astronaut, 

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

 I am delighted that we are realizing this extraordinary initiative with JAXA.


To perform music with the SKO, which is my cherished musical family—this is something that makes me happy beyond words. And to be able to deliver our performance to space…. this is amazing. I also greatly look forward to seeing Koichi Wakata, who is now in space. I wonder how music will sound in outer space?


Many adults and children on this planet are suffering and are saddened by COVID-19 and war.

Music can link the hearts of people—transcending words, borders, religion, and politics. It is my hope that through music, we can be reminded that we are all of the same human race livinig on the same planet. And that we are united. 

On December 1, our music will be delivered to the world with JAXA. 

It would be my pleasure if we could share this moment together.


©Michiharu Okubo



When I first traveled to space, we penetrated the stunning aurora curtain that surrounded the Antarctic. I thought I heard imperial court music and baroque music at the same time, riding on a sweet fragrance. This time, Maestro Ozawa’s music will reach space as the voice of a terrestrial being. I believe that this will be a message to space that transcends the melodies of the East and West.


President, the Japan Science Museum Association Chief Executive Director Emeritus of the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Astronaut

照片2-(C)Takeshi Yamada2.jpg

©Takeshi Yamada


The origin of SKO dates back to September 1984 when memorial concerts were held in remembrance of the great educator Hideo Saito on the tenth anniversary of his passing. Conductor Seiji Ozawa, who studied under Hideo Saito, organized more than a hundred of his fellow students including Kazuyoshi Akiyama for memorial concerts. This served as the foundation of what was to become SKO.

In 1987, SKO launched its first tour in Europe, followed by a second tour in 1989, and was lauded as “an astounding orchestra that arrived with Ozawa, whose performances were on par with the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic.” In 1990, SKO under the baton of Seiji Ozawa was invited to festivals throughout Europe including the Salzburg Festival. In 1991, it embarked on a world tour with stops in London, Düsseldorf, Amsterdam, and New York. In 1992, Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture became the home of SKO, and the Seiji Ozawa Matsumoto Festival (formerly the Saito Kinen Festival Matsumoto) was launched. Opera and concert performances that capture worldwide attention have been held since every year.

SKO members are key musicians of major orchestras, soloists, chamber musicians, and educators in Europe, America, and Japan, and many have won awards at international contests. Each player is full of unique musicality, but their approach towards music that could be considered the “Ozawa spirit” is fostered by participating in SKO and it is as if they merge to become one living creature. These exceptional features are passed on to young musicians of the next generation, giving this orchestra a distinctive presence in the world.

SKO has released many recordings to date, and in 2016 won the 58th Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording (Conductor Seiji Ozawa / Ravel L’enfant et les sortilèges).



Ludwig van Beethoven: “Egmont” Overture, op. 84

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770–1827) left behind a number of incidental music compositions, of which his work for Goethe’s play Egmont is especially significant. This was commissioned by Joseph Hartl, the manager of Vienna’s Court Theatre, in fall 1809. Beethoven eagerly took his pen, considering it an honor because he revered Goethe as made apparent in his own words: “I have written the music, which I did out of sheer love for his poetry.” 


“A Miraculous Night”


The experience was like a miracle. The night of November 23, in a corner of the 2nd-floor audience seating at a hall in Matsumoto, I listened to the “Egmont” Overture being performed by the SKO and conducted by Seiji Ozawa. It may be more accurate to say that I immersed in beautiful art cascading into the empty hall. It must have been very emotional for the musicians to perform under Maestro Ozawa for the first time in a while—I imagine their eyes were filled with tears as they played. I am no expert of music, but I can say without doubt that this “Egmont” Overture performance was historic.


Maestro Ozawa, thank you. As someone who shares the same background of growing up in Manchuria and being just two or three years older than you, I send you my heartfelt wish that you stay well for many more years to come.



To see Maestro Ozawa performing music for outer space at the end of 2022 was blissful.

In the moment when conductor Seiji Ozawa radiated vital energy from all of his cells and the orchestra came alive, I felt the rush of being teleported to space.

The Earth faces many issues, but this renewed my wish that we will somehow pull together as one so that the world will be filled with beautiful smiles.



I strongly felt the sentiments of all toward the planet Earth. This performance seemed to epitomize Seiji Ozawa’s lifetime achievements and unwavering mutual trust with the Saito Kinen Orchestra. I truly sensed the love. 


The crystallization of that love was performed on Earth and delivered to space…and we were able to witness this from Earth as well. Making this cycle of love visible may have been what made this so meaningful.



The sight and facial expressions of Maestro Ozawa as he conducted “Egmont” brought me to tears as I thought, “This is what music is all about!” I am at a loss for words, having witnessed the pinnacle of music that I have been pursuing my entire life.

When I watched SKO perform, they were truly the embodiment of my ideal orchestra, the epitome of all musicians regardless of genre. My heart was so full of blissful energy, I could hardly breathe.

“Listening” is so simple, yet so hard. Concertmaster Toyoshima-san and each of the orchestra members could hear the music playing in Maestro Ozawa’s heart because they are top-class, richly-experienced musicians—and they did so with great urgency. Transcending the visible movements of Maestro Ozawa’s hands and fingers, they focused on his facial expressions and far beyond his eyes, detecting the music that he was hearing to create their respective sounds. And to deeply inspire these virtuosos to do so with his presence—Seiji Ozawa is the supreme musician of this world.






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©Seiji Ozawa/SKO&JAXA ONE EARTH MISSION All Rights Reserved

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