Just arrived - Ryou Banno

von Pedro Torres
Ryou Banno

One interesting fact about you is that you are former academist of the LPOA (Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra Academy) who joined the OPL, within 3 months of joining the academy. What was the biggest change for you? How did you experience it?

The biggest change for me was going from a half-time job with the academy to a full-time job with the OPL. I found it a bit more difficult to find the time to practice for myself and I felt that the rehearsals in general were a bit more intense than usual. But other than that, there’s practically no difference. In our viola section everybody is very friendly to me, and I feel really relaxed and at ease.

 Also, when I was in the academy, I lived with the other 6 academists in the same house. This has changed too since joining the OPL full-time. I now have my own place, but we regularly socialize and the bond we created is still there.

How and when did you first hear about the LPOA and/or OPL?

I became aware of the LPOA through the platform muvac. At the time I was looking for a job and when I saw the audition for the academy I decided to apply. One thing led to another and now I’m here.

Do you remember what works you had to play during your OPL audition?

I particularly remember Leoš Janáček’s Sinfonietta. It’s a relatively difficult piece to play because it’s very technical and one must really pay attention to the intonation. I remember practicing this piece a lot. Since it’s very difficult to observe yourself while you’re playing, I believe that it’s very beneficial to take a video of yourself. It really gives you crucial insights on what you can improve.

Is there some specific advice you would give to someone preparing for an audition or for someone who just joined an orchestra?

During the trial period my advice would be to be as prepared and relaxed as possible. I think that it’s important to play with confidence. Preparation and confidence go hand in hand. During the trial time, one tends to be a bit afraid of playing strongly and showing oneself. Just like in life, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, so don’t hesitate to play. Once you start hesitating, it kind of spreads like a virus affecting the people around you. Trying to make everything perfect is paradoxically also a barrier.

Is there a particular concert you remember during your stay with the LPOA or OPL. If yes, why?

I remember very well the concert we (OPL) gave back in February 2022 together with Jukka-Pekka Saraste and Sol Gabetta, where we played the Antonín Dvořák program. For this concert my boss got sick, and I had to sit next to the principle as well as in front of a very great conductor. I got the news just 5 minutes before the rehearsal; I wasn’t expecting it at all. I was very nervous, but in the end the concert was really good. I had to play a small but very complicated solo, so a lot of practice went into that part.

Which musician or musicians inspire/influenced you the most? Are there any special techniques you acquired during these years?

It’s very difficult to say. I like listening to old records. If I had to choose a violinist and a violist, I would say Fritz Kreisler or William Primrose. There’s just something about their sound and the way they play. They were in a sense important for my musical development in terms of individual playing and I really recommend listening to them.

But I also learned so much with my four teachers back in Japan and Antwerp, Belgium, as well as the members of the OPL.

I’m currently learning a technique called the Alexander technique. It’s a technique that teaches improved posture and movement, which helps reduce and prevent problems caused by unhelpful habits. I’m essentially using it to avoid picking up injuries when playing and to establish a good connection between my body and my instrument. Some of these techniques can also be used to improve your playing. I can only recommend everybody to use this technique.

Do you have a favorite solo part in the orchestral repertoire?

I like Ravel's Ma Mère l’Oye. In the last movement there is a viola solo, which is played in a very high pitch and close to the body of the instrument. I really like French composers and the French repertoire.

How long have you been playing the viola and why did you choose it? What makes it so special?

I started playing the violin at the age of three and then changed to the viola when I was 15. When I went to the Music high school in Tokyo, I took the exam for the violin and the viola. Unfortunately, I didn't succeed in the violin exam. It was at this time that I decided to stick with the viola. Eventually I prefer the viola because of its deeper sound, and I feel more connected to it. My hand is also quite big and playing the viola is more comfortable for me.

Besides the OPL, is there any orchestra that you particularly like?

Playing in the OPL is my first job, so of course I choose the OPL. When I was a child, my father and I really loved to watch the Vienna Philharmonic and the New Year’s Concerts conducted by Carlos Kleiber.

Is there a special concert hall you would like to perform with the OPL? And why?


I really hope to go to Japan with the OPL one day and play at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo. It’s an unbelievable luxurious concert hall with exceptional acoustics. It’s also a very important hall for Japanese people, especially if you’re a musician.

Where have you lived before coming to Luxembourg and how do you like Luxembourg so far? Are there any things you like?

Before to coming to Luxembourg, I lived in Tokyo and in Antwerp in Belgium. When I was 22, I graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts. I always wanted to study and work in Europe. Since I knew one of the professors in Antwerp, I decided to move there directly.

My first visit to Luxembourg was linked to the LPOA audition.

My first impressions of Luxembourg when I moved here were quite positive. Luxembourg City is very beautiful, and I remember being impressed by the view from the Pont Adolphe.

What is your view on joining an academy before entering an orchestra full-time?

Overall, the academy does a very good job of preparing oneself for an orchestra job, getting experience and becoming a better musician overall. Solo playing and orchestra playing are quite different and one must learn it. However, it doesn’t necessarily suit everyone. My view is that you can only know if an academy is beneficial for you once you are in it, but that is just my view. In my case it was beneficial.

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