As Chairman of the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, GBSF, it gives me great pleasure - and is equally an honour - to write a foreword for the programme of this distinguished concert.
The aim of GBSF is to enhance relationships between Britain and Japan in all fields - sponsoring youth and student exchanges, promoting the study of Japanese and English in our respective countries, funding visits both ways in academic, medical, scientific, sporting, artistic and cultural fields - including the visual and performing arts.
Music is not the least of the activities which we are committed to support - exemplified by this evening's concert. We have helped cathedral, university and college choirs on visits to Japan and orchestras and individual artists performing in both Japan and Britain. We have close links with the Royal Academy of Music in such initiatives. Music is truly an international art without frontiers - speaking directly to peoples across the world - and we recognise the distinguished tradition of Western classical music in Japan.
The GBSF is one of a family of foundations, originating from the generosity of Ryoichi Sasakawa, continued through Yohei Sasakawa, President of The Nippon Foundation and one of our own Trustees.
This concert springs from a happy collaboration between the GBSF, the Nippon Music Foundation and The Nippon Foundation, encouraged by the personal initiative of Yohei Sasakawa.
We owe a great debt to the Royal Academy of Music, through its Director, Dr. Curtis Price, for the privilege of being able to have the Duke's Hall of the Academy as the venue, and for much of the administration. Thanks are due to all those whose work and support has made the concert possible.
Above all, of course, we are indebted to Mr. Steven Isserlis, with his accompanyist Mr. Ian Brown, whose genius endows his performances with a special magic.
Professor Peter Mathias CBE, FBA, D.Litt.
The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation