Following a bouquet of red roses – the perfect start for the Worlds in Saitama

Hiromi at Sala Radio in Bucharest

Hiromi at Sala Radio in Bucharest (Photo: Miluta Flueras)

I wish I were in Japan these days, for the 2014 World Figure Skating Championships – but instead, a tiny piece of Japan, a cherry blossom, came to Bucharest. And to me last night’ concert of Hiromi Uehara, a wonderful pianist born in Hamamatsu, Japan, exactly 35 years ago today, was truly a marvel – and the perfect debut for this edition of the Worlds.

by Florentina Tone

The story of the concert was actually the story of the bouquet of red roses which travelled last night in the center of Bucharest in the arms of a young Japanese gentleman. I could bet my money on it: the bouquet and the gentleman were heading to Hiromi’s concert – and so were we, me and a friend. So we just followed the roses till Sala Radio, a concert hall in Bucharest, and enjoyed every (musical) piece of the night.

Because it was indeed a wonderful concert, with a beautiful, engaging artist – sometimes powerful and impetuous, sometimes calm and nostalgic and sometimes inviting and even flirtatious; and the piano abandoned itself into Hiromi’s embrace – who turns 35 today. Someone in the audience shouted during the repeat: “Happy birthday for tomorrow!” – and the pianist smiled, playing a few notes of “Happy birthday to you…”

Hiromi in Bucharest

Hiromi in Bucharest (Photo: Miluta Flueras)

The concert was an absolute joy – let me tell you just that; and I felt the urge of standing up and applauding Hiromi all throughout the evening. I loved the “Sakura” piece (“Now it’s the season of the cherry blossom in Japan, that’s why I played it…”), I loved the “BQE” tune, an abbreviation for Brooklyn-Queen Expressway in New York, with its noises, its horns, its rush, I fell in love with “The Place to be”, with the castle behind a river, in the middle of the forest, but mostly I breathed and loved Hiromi’s innovations when playing the Pachelbel’s Canon (“a kind of…”), la piece de résistance of the night, and those three parts of “Viva! Vegas”; I could have sworn I heard the city’s rag during the night, its silence (and sleepiness) during the day, the noises of the slot machines when gambling.

Two hours later, the bouquet travelled to Hiromi’s arms, matching her intriguing coiffure. As for me, I knew I was ready: let the World competition begin in the country of the cherry blossoms.