The quest for perfection is a rare journey that few choose to undertake. It is not for the faint of heart but only for those with the vision, the will, and the passion to succeed. These qualities, deep in the heart of one man, became the essence of a dream – a dream that would launch a never-ending quest for perfection.
Nearly a century ago in Japan, an obscure medical instrument technician was struggling alone to build an upright piano from imported parts. One day, he was surprised to see a neighbour’s son riding by on a unique pedal-driven cart, the first ever to travel the roads of Hamamatsu, Japan. The aspiring piano builder was so impressed when he learned that the boy had designed and built the cart by himself that he invited the young man to be his apprentice. The next day, the invitation was accepted and a dream was born. The young man, Koichi Kawai, the son of a wagon maker, would set out to build his first piano.
The ensuing years would reveal Koichi Kawai’s extraordinary genius for design and innovation. He led the research and development team that introduced pianos to his country. Later, he became the first in Japan to design and build a complete piano action, receiving many patents for his designs and inventions. It was an impressive beginning, yet his greatest achievements were still to come.
From humble beginnings in 1927, Kawai pianos have reached the pinnacle of international acclaim. Found on concert stages throughout the world, they continue to be selected by gold medal winners and finalists at prestigious international piano competitions across the globe.
And they are our piano partner at Opera Queensland.
We caught up with Warrick Baker from Kawai to find out how they have been adapting during Covid-19.
From the outset we had two very different scenarios playing out across our Australia and New Zealand. One side of the Tasman went into full shutdown, to the point where outside of essential goods and services no one could even shop online due to the strict measures put in place on freight movements. On the other side of the Tasman in Australia we have seen the other extreme where so far (at the moment at least), it’s almost been business as usual.
What we didn’t foresee was the demand for more people engaging in making music at home. One thing that has been proven by the shutdowns and distancing is that in times of uncertainty, people still want a release, and music has been proven to be just that, time and time again.
The biggest change we had to implement was taking advantage of different technologies so everyone could function effectively, and work continuity remained as normal as possible.
It was a quick turnaround of two or three days at most from having only a couple of us set up to work on the road, to everyone in the office being able to function normally as if we were at our desks.
It really comes down to two things really: the experience that live performance gives, and the social aspect. I think what has been discovered by most people during the last few months is that a lot of the freedoms we take for granted have had to go on hold.
What we have taken away from all of this is just how vital the experience economy is, and in many cases, it’s taken for granted. There has been considerable focus on how the various codes of football could be back up and running sooner rather than later: the very act of sitting in a stadium, sharing a live experience, is one that people need, and it’s no different from sitting in a concert hall for an opera performance, or musical theatre, or a live band at the local.
We gravitate towards the experience of the performance, being part of it many ways. In terms of the social aspects, live performance adds to the social fabric of society and allows everyone to escape the day to day realities and pressures for a few hours.
The first tip has been keeping routine. It’s the little things that help keep some form of normality. Personally, the novelty of working from home wore very thin very early but I focussed on keeping a morning routine as I would attending the office on the same time schedule… how that looks for us all is always different.
The second part for us is timely, honest and clear communication. We’re keeping everyone up to date with what’s going on at the organisational level. We are lucky we are a small team and normally everyone is across most things happening at any given time. It was important that this continued in a remote working environment. We’re determined to leave no one behind.
Outside of all of this it’s important to make an extra effort to connect on a personal level. It doesn’t need to be a big production so to speak but just a simple text or call outside of the usual group office teams’ conversations.
What we do see is the future will look different to what we had up until a few months ago. Some companies are talking mid-2021 before they can think about opening venues and programming again. The big unknown is how many we will we lose long the way.
As we start to come out of the COVID environment, the value that live performance and music gives to our social fabric and our lives in general needs to be recognised.
The biggest hope we have for the future, is that a support and funding spotlight is focused on the arts, going forward. Just imagine life without music. No thanks!Warrick Baker, National Sales and Marketing Manager from Kawai
Find out more about Kawai here.
For more information about partnering with Opera Queensland, please contact Erin Robinson at email@example.com or on 07 3735 3057 or contact our Development Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07 3735 3030.