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Taiwan's National Symphony Orchestra to perform 'Romeo and Juliet' for the first time

Japanese jazz pianist is set to join the band's first show on Saturday

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Jun Markl and Ozone Makoto will perform on Feb. 18. (Taiwan News, Lyla Liu photo)

Jun Markl and Ozone Makoto will perform on Feb. 18. (Taiwan News, Lyla Liu photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) on Wednesday (Feb. 15) announced two forthcoming performances in February.

Japanese jazz pianist, Ozone Makoto, will take part in the first show with NSO on Saturday (Feb. 18) at the National Concert Hall as part of the Taiwan International Festival of Arts program.

NSO and Ozone will bring the audience Russian composer, Sergei Rachmaninoff’s work titled “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, Op.43,” and works by Mikhail Glinka and French composer, Claude Debussy. NSO Music Director and Conductor, Jun Markl, noted that Ozone is the perfect musician to perform the composition's advanced techniques.

Ozone and Markl met while teaching at the Tokyo University of the Arts. The duo later performed in Europe together, according to Ozone.

Ozone is famously known for his jazz background and impromptu shows as well as his claim that he began learning to play classical music at 42.

“There are so many excellent classical pianists who can play those pieces so perfectly, so I think it is good to have a black sheep,” Ozone joked.

He promised he would change some notes and harmonies but would remain truthful to the music. “The positive side about this is if you do not like the performance, you will not see it again, as every time I play it's something new,” he said.

At the promotion press event, someone's phone rang, which reminded him of a magical moment from years before. He recalled that during a performance of a rather dark piece, when some audience members were shedding tears, an audience member's phone rang. He tried to ignore the interruption, but he could feel the crowd’s anger and the person's embarrassment.

He then played the ringtone’s melody on stage, making everyone laugh. “That was the concert! Even though a phone rang, everyone’s hearts became one,” said Ozone.

After performing with Ozone on Saturday, NSO will collaborate with Grammy Award winner and mezzo-soprano, Kelly O’Connor, Canadian tenor, John Tessier, and Taiwanese bass, Julian Lo (羅俊穎) to perform Hector Berlioz’s “Roméo et Juliette” on Feb. 24.

Taipei Philharmonic Chorus will also participate. It will be the first time the full orchestra version of William Shakespeare's classic to perform in the nation.