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2 November 2022, 17:17 | Updated: 2 November 2022, 18:00
A sprinkler malfunction caused hundreds of millions of Yen worth of water damage to a Japanese orchestra’s musical instruments.
A Japanese orchestra has spoken out after an incident in September earlier this year led to their musical instruments suffering hundreds of millions of Yen worth of water damage.
The Sinfonietta Shizuoka had been due to perform at the Susono City Cultural Center on 24 September, and were practising in the concert venue prior to the start of their performance.
At 1pm, while the musicians were rehearsing, the venue’s sprinkler system reportedly glitched, causing sprinklers in the main hall of the building to go off.
The result was a tirade of water pouring from the ceiling which partially flooded the concert hall and damaged many of the orchestra’s musical instruments.
The orchestra organised a press conference three weeks later on 13 October to share their anger over the incident. According to the orchestra, over one hundred instruments were damaged by the falling water.
Among the instruments damaged was a Steinway piano reportedly purchased by the city-owned cultural centre for 13 million yen (c. £77,000).
During the press conference, the orchestra’s bassist, Taku Tsuchida, shared that members of the orchestra had desperately tried to save the instruments on stage.
Tsuchida said that his fellow musicians attempted to keep the instruments dry by rushing them off stage, or using towels and the clothes they were wearing to remove what water they could, and stop any subsequent absorption.
Five members of the orchestra were also injured from running and falling due to the hazardous environment the water created.
The orchestra reportedly estimates the total damage to be in the hundreds of millions of yen, but cannot be sure on a figure as many of the instruments impacted are the musicians’ personal property.
At the press conference, the orchestra’s artistic director, Tomoya Nakahara, told reporters: “Substitutes cannot be found for many of our musical instruments even if we tried to look.
“It is a calamity that so many instruments were so badly soaked. We are praying they can be repaired so they can continue to be used, but right now it is unclear whether that is even possible.”
A city representative reported that no mechanical problems were detected with the sprinkler system, which was examined following the incident.
Police were contacted over suspicions that the system may have been tampered with, but the musicians doubt this theory given the panel to control the sprinklers was backstage near where they rehearsed. The orchestra’s artistic director subsequently suggested the musicians would have seen if somebody had tampered with the panel.
Two weeks after the press conference on 27 October, the Susono city government announced it would set up a committee of experts by the end of November to investigate the sprinkler incident. The Japanese newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun also reported that city officials said the water devastated the cultural centre, totalling an estimated 159 million Yen (c. £943,000) of damage.
The mayor of the city, Harukaze Murata, told reporters that compensation for the orchestra would only be considered following the results of the committee.