National Arts Centre to receive “toothpick orchestra”

Go Sato with his amazing toothpick model of the orchestra

On Tuesday, June 25 at 10:30 a.m. in the NAC Foyer, the National Arts Centre will receive a unique gift: a model of the NAC Orchestra made entirely of toothpicks!

The model, which consists of 12, 500 toothpicks, was created by Go Sato, who immigrated to Canada 41 years ago and who for the past 40 years has worked for Agriculture Canada and Agri-Food Canada as a Scientific Illustrator. The model took him three years to make, including three weeks of his holidays to finish it.

A long-time NAC Orchestra subscriber, Mr. Sato painstakingly crafted an orchestra of 61 musicians, the size being based on a Romantic orchestra, specifically Beethoven. The percussionist and the conductor are standing, while the rest of the musicians sit on chairs or stools.  Two of the  musicians, the principal cello (who is wearing high heels) and the principal double bass (who holds his bow with an underhand grip and sits on a backless stool), were created with the NAC Orchestra’s Amanda Forsyth and Joel Quarrington in mind. As an added challenge, Mr. Sato used only rounded toothpicks, as they do not bend easily.

While there is a tradition of toothpick art – particularly architectural replicas of buildings – Mr. Sato believes he is the only person to have created an orchestra in this manner. Mr. Sato believes the most important toothpick art collection is “Toothpick World” in Rochester, New York.  However, there are no orchestras in that collection.

“I believe that my toothpick orchestra is the first in the world. I am so happy it is of the NAC Orchestra, Canada’s Orchestra. I want to give it to the NAC because Canada has given me so much in my life, and I love classical music,” said Mr. Sato.

The NAC is grateful to Mr. Sato, who is donating the toothpick orchestra to the NAC. The model will be on public display July 1 during its Canada Day festivities.

This is the second gift that Mr. Sato has given the NAC: he previously created a model of the Parliament Buildings made entirely out of NAC ticket stubs.

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