April 28, 2020

Celebrants of Culture


On May 5, 1997, Tomoko played piano compositions for the poetry of Hojo Nakajima. Singers and musician with Western and Japanese performed her in this evening of music celebration, held at the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Hojo Nakajima was in Fukuoka, Japan, born two years earlier than Tomoko. He was Chamberlain to the Crown Prince and part of the Imperial Household Agency. His first poetry anthology was published in 1990.

The history of  the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor begins earlier in the century. A replica of Paris’s Palaise de la L├ęgion d’Honneur was constructed by the French for the 1915 San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition. At the end of the exposition, the French government sugar magnate Adolph Spreckels to build a permanent ¾ sized replica, which was completed in 1924. Spreckel’s wife, Alma, wanted the city to have a new art museum, so the family donated it to the city of San Francisco, in memory of WWI California military casualties. In 1995 the museum was renovated to make it seismic safe, and was enlarged in the process to handle more exhibits and services.

Since the beginning, the museum has been located in Lincoln Park, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. IT collects ancient and European art, and houses the largest collecxtion of works on paper in the western United States. The museum’s Spreckels gallery also contains a symphonic organ, which is played every Saturday for concerts; another space holds the Gunn Theater, which is a venue for chamber music concerts.

Tomoko’s performance was held in that theater, and Tomoko likely saw the original Palaise when she visited Paris as part of her time as a contestant at the Long-Thibaud International Piano Competition, thirty years before her performance at the San Francisco Palace.

All of these people and places reflect celebrated the international world of culture, and we are their beneficiaries.