Music Director and Conductor
Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra
This portrait of Yoshimi Takeda appeared in the "Season of the Maestro" brochure that announced
the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra's 1998-1999 season, which marked his final season as Music
Director and Conductor.
Maestro Takeda conducted the opening concert with a semi-staged production of Bizet's Carmen.
Five guest conductors, finalists in the search for a new KSO Music Director, were engaged for the
other concerts that season. Yoshimi Takeda returned to conduct the final concert of the season on
April 23, 1999.
In the years following Yoshimi Takeda's untimely death in 2000, a campaign was launched to
raise funds to officially name the performance studio at WMUK-FM The Yoshimi Takeda
After the funds were raised and the renovations were completed, The Yoshimi Takeda
Performance Studio was formally dedicated at a reception on May 25, 2005. Pictured here
are Christopher Takeda and Mary Ellen Takeda at the studio dedication on the campus of
Western Michigan University.
KEEP SCROLLING DOWN THIS PAGE...
1976/ TAKEDA/ Marian Anderson/ KSO Bicentennial Celebration/ Kirk Newman Sculpture
1970s - 1990s/ YOSHIMI TAKEDA: Maestro, Friend, Global Citizen
1975-76/ TAKEDA/ Marian Anderson/ KSO Bicentennial Celebrations/ Kirk Newman Sculpture
Photo presented to Maestro Takeda by Marian Anderson
From the personal library of Mary Ellen Takeda
American contralto Marian Anderson (1897 - 1993) first came to Kalamazoo in the 1930s. She was
in town to give a vocal recital. When she checked into a downtown hotel she was told she had to take the freight elevator to get to her room. Four decades later, she returned to a city that had changed profoundly in those intervening years.
In 1975, Marian Anderson was invited by Maestro Yoshimi Takeda and the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra to narrate Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait. She had retired from singing by that time, yet still appeared in public.
Marian Anderson's brilliant career began in 1925 when she won a singing competition that awarded her
an appearance with the New York Philharmonic.
Hailed by critics in America, she became the toast of Europe, and toured extensively, giving recitals and
performing in concerts with symphony orchestras. She was greatly loved by the concert-going public for
her interpretations of classical vocal literature, lieder, opera arias, and traditional spirituals.
Here is Marian Anderson singing Deep River:
The Kalamazoo Symphony concert on October 14, 1975 was headlined by Marian Anderson's moving
narration of Copland's Lincoln Portrait. This concert was the KSO's 1975-76 season, conducted by newly-appointed Music Director Yoshimi Takeda, who had accepted the position the year before.
-Kalamazoo Gazette (10/5/75) (click on article to enlarge)
Note: Alice's Archivist decided to leave in snippets of other articles on the same page as the Takeda
article. It gives the reader a flavor of what was going on in the arts scene in Kalamazoo in 1975.
-From the 1975-76 Kalamazoo Symphony brochure
With a voice that inspired Arthur Rubinstein, Arturo Toscanini and Jean Sibelius, Marian Anderson was already having a great career in Europe when she met American impresario Sol Hurok in 1934. It was a meeting that proved to be fruitful indeed as Hurok guided and managed her career for the rest of her professional life. He helped her expand her concertizing in Europe and encouraged her to return to America in 1935.
Back in the United States, Anderson navigated the troubling landscape of racial prejudice, armed with nothing but a glorious voice and glorious music to sing. Marian found herself at the center of a sea change in society, with herself as figurehead. She rose to the challenge, and emerged a true heroine.
Aaron Copland's starkly beautiful Lincoln Portrait for symphony orchestra and narrator was composed in 1942, created to boost morale during World War II. It intertwines biographical material with famous quotations from Abraham Lincoln's speeches and writings.
-Alice's Archivist (2/8/11)
Abraham Lincoln spoke in Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo in 1856
Photo: Kalamazoo Public Library
1976/ TAKEDA/ Kirk Newman Bicentennial Sculpture Dedication
WHEN MERCY AND JUSTICE PREVAIL, CHILDREN MAY SAFELY PLAY
July 4, 1976
Bronson Park, Kalamazoo, Michigan
A Project of the Religious Congregations of Kalamazoo County
The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, Yoshimi Takeda, Music Director and Conductor
The Kalamazoo County Bicentennial Chorus, Thomas Kasdorf, Director
(click on page to enlarge)
(click on page to enlarge)
Alice and Yoshimi at Gull Lake (August, 1976)
-Alice's Archivist (2/3/11)
1970s - 1990s/ TAKEDA/ Maestro, Friend, Global Citizen
Kalamazoo Gazette 10/8/76
MAESTRO YOSHIMI TAKEDA AND BOARD CHAIR ALICE MULLEN
REVIEW PUBLICITY MATERIALS FOR THE 1976-77 SEASON
If music is the universal language, Yoshimi Takeda spoke it fluently. Elegant and precise,
he seemed to dance with his muse while on the podium. With his perfect timing, technique
and tempi, he inspired his players to come and join him in play.
After his conducting debut with the Tokyo Symphony and guest conducting engagements
with the Japan Philharmonic, Yoshimi Takeda arrived in the USA in 1961 to begin a two-
year fellowship to work with George Szell, Music Director of the Cleveland Orchestra.
Yoshimi's 1963 debut concert with the Cleveland Orchestra inspired Szell to describe Takeda
as "a rare specimen... a born conductor". Yoshimi went on to work with conductors at Tangle-
wood, including Robert Shaw.
In 1964, he was hired as Associate Conductor of the Honolulu Symphony, and spent six seasons
there. He toured the Hawaiian Islands with the orchestra, and developed educational programs.
In 1970, Yoshimi went to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to take up the baton as Music Director
of the Albuquerque Symphony (now called the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra). When he
was hired by the Kalamazoo Symphony for the 1974-75 season, he divided his time commuting
between Michigan and New Mexico. He would remain as Music Director in Albuquerque for
ten more years, serving both orchestras concurrently. His reputation preceded him upon his arrival
in Kalamazoo. There were glowing reports of his artistry on the podium, and his down-to-earth
qualities in dealing with the community and the day-to-day business of being at the helm of a large
"Takeda's presence made an immediate impact", (Zaide Pixley, GREAT ENSEMBLE, The Story
of the Kalamazoo Symphony, p. 73). Critics praised him for inspiring the KSO to achieve higher
levels of performing excellence. Gazette music reviewer Dianne Heintz declared Takeda's inter-
pretation of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition a "milestone" in the KSO's history (Pixley, p. 73)
Yoshimi had excellent taste in choosing repertoire, and was adventuresome and eclectic in
building programs for each season. He hired world-class soloists. He commissioned new
works. He loved singers, and staged operas, performed oratorios and directed gospel choirs.
He started the "Sunday Classics" chamber orchestra series, and knew the value of educational
outreach. Thousands of school children attended the KSO education concerts, and small groups
of symphony musicians visited them in their schools as well.
The Summer Park Concert series commenced in 1973, a year before Maestro Takeda came to
Kalamazoo. When July of 1975 rolled around and Takeda had been with the KSO for a full
season, he took up this summer concert series with gusto. Bronson Park was once again the
center of summertime symphonic music in Kalamazoo. Takeda also took the Kalamazoo
Symphony "on the road' and repeated the Bronson Park program at outdoor venues in area
communities. It gave the players a full week of work every July until the late 1990s.
Photographed in front of the fountain in Bronson Park, Kalamazoo (photographer unknown)
Takeda expanded the orchestra on all fronts: the size of the orchestra, the number and variety of
concerts, and performing venues. He worked on audience development through clever marketing
techniques. He had a devoted following among newcomers and seasoned supporters alike, and
the audiences loved him. He was Music Director of the Kalamazoo Symphony for 25 years.
Yoshimi became a legend in his own time.
A citizen of the world, Yoshimi maintained a busy schedule of guest conducting engagements
throughout his career with orchestras in Japan, South Africa, Europe and the United States.
Alice adored Yoshimi, and championed all the things he wanted to do with the Kalamazoo
Symphony. She became a personal friend, and drew Yoshi and his family into her social
circle. Parties, dinners, receptions and outings were always in the works when Yoshimi,
his wife Mary Ellen and son Christopher were in town. Alice was thrilled when the Takedas
made Kalamazoo their permanent home in 1994.
Yoshimi's Retirement Party at the Kalamazoo Country Club, May, 1999
When Yoshimi conducted Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Carnegie Hall in 1996, Alice
travelled to New York to be in the audience. The concert was a joint venture promoting
Japanese and American friendship, with university-level players from both countries par-
ticipating, including Chris and his fellow students from the Juilliard School.
ODE TO JOY (first verse) by Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)
(poem completed in 1785, revised in 1803)
Joy, thou spark from flame immortal,
Daughter of Elysium!
Drunk with fire, O heav'n-born Goddess,
We invade thy halidom!
Let thy magic bring together
All whom earth-bound laws divide;
All mankind shall be as brothers
'Neath thy tender wings and wide.
(translated by Henry G. Chapman)
Ludwig van Beethoven began composing his 9th Symphony in D minor, op. 125, "Choral",
in 1818. It was completed in 1824.
Alice, U.S. District Court Judge Richard A. Enslen, Yoshimi, Chris, Mary Ellen, and Doug Patti
For his many accomplishments in his 25 years with the Kalamazoo Symphony, Maestro
Takeda received the Community Medal of Arts Award in 1988, and honorary doctorates
from Western Michigan University (1989) and Kalamazoo College (1993).
In 1999, Yoshimi Takeda retired from the Kalamazoo Symphony. After valiantly battling
cancer, his passing in 2000 was a tragic loss to the music world and the community who
loved him so much.
Rest in peace, Takeda-san.
YOSHIMI TAKEDA 1933 - 2000
program for the Memorial Service on August 14, 2000
Gary Logsdon, Principal Viola of the New Mexico Symphony
Albuquerque, New Mexico, July 26, 2000
HONORING YOSHIMI'S LEGACY
WMUK-FM is owned and operated by Western Michigan University. It carries NPR programming
and generously supports the local arts scene. Kalamazoo Symphony concerts have been taped for
re-broadcast since the 1960s.
WMUK's broadcast facilities on campus include a recording studio. In 2003, a campaign was
launched to raise funds to officially name it the "Yoshimi Takeda Performance Studio", in memory
of the KSO's beloved Maestro and his contributions to the arts in Kalamazoo and West Michigan.
TransMission Log, WMUK Newsletter, Summer 2003
The studio itself was completely renovated, and on May 25, 2005, the new facility, now the
"Yoshimi Takeda Performance Studio", was unveiled at a reception for donors and friends.
Christopher Takeda, Mary Ellen Takeda, and Floyd Pientka, General Manager of WMUK
YOSHIMI TAKEDA PERFORMANCE STUDIO