Jun Märkl was recently honoured with the title Visiting Professor of the Kunitachi Conservatoire in Tokyo. He returns to Kunitachi this month for his annual visit, coaching the student orchestra for a week and then leading them in a concert at Tokyo Opera City on 14 July, bringing his expertise to bear on Strauss Don Juanand Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique.
Märkl has also undertaken several private initiatives to support young musicians in Japan, notably his Mito Violin Project which he started several years ago. He has donated several string instruments for the Mito College to loan out to selected young players, so that they can develop not only their technical skills but also build their sound imagination and personal style. So far he has donated four violins and two violas, with more to follow – especially cellos, for which further sponsorship is needed to cover the transport the instruments from Germany to Japan. Would-be recipients have to audition for the privilege, and successful candidates are each lent an instrument for one or two years free of charge, on condition that they give at least two concerts a year for the local people in the Mito area.
This year a viola has been lent to Ayaka Kubota (living in Mito, but a student of the Tokyo College of Music). Ayaka has played violin since she was three years old, and since beginning at the conservatoire she has started on the viola too, but until now did not have her own instrument. With this loan she is well-equipped to deepen her musical studies with the aim of joining the profession. The other viola has been lent to the Mito Junior Orchestra, which was founded in 1977 and is the only youth string orchestra in Mito. The loan will allow them to lend their students a viola of vastly superior quality.