After a car ride through which everyone is sang their own song to themselves and in the process annoyed Chiaki, the group finally arrives at the Nina Lutz music festival. Masumi, Mine, and Nodame all get to take part in lessons for their respective instruments, but Nodame get kicked out quite early by Nina Lutz for not being able to sight read and play a Bartók piece. Although Mine is depressed by lunchtime at how much better everyone else is, Masumi is quite excited because he practiced ahead of time. Nodame just wants to see Chiaki, but he’s nowhere to be found. Chiaki is actually at a party with many important musicians, however Elise then tracks him down and hands him all the materials he needs to take care of Stresemann because she’s going on vacation. He thus ends up spending his entire time at the party watching over and serving the Maestro. After bringing a passed out Stresemann back to his room, Chiaki sees that there is Dvořák sheet music lying around and studies it through the night.
The next day, Stresemann conducts his orchestra while hung over. Chiaki notices that everyone is playing great for such a difficult piece except for one particular person who didn’t practice enough: Mine. As lunchtime rolls around, Mine is again depressed with how poorly he plays compared to everyone else. Things are made worse when everyone starts talking about how tough it is for them to find positions in real orchestras, making Mine realize that it’s hard for even the good players. Nodame meanwhile finds Chiaki sitting by himself in the woods, but she’s not happy to admit that she got kicked out of Nina Lutz’s class. When she says that she wants to go home, Chiaki angrily tells her to just do so. He then goes to see Stresemann, but the Maestro is feeling so under the weather that he wants Chiaki to conduct the afternoon rehearsal because he knows Chiaki studied it last night. Although the students are surprised that Chiaki is Stresemann’s pupil, they follow his instructions all the same through the practice. One of the reporters at the event who is watching the rehearsal finds it big news that Stresemann took on a Japanese pupil and has her cameraman take a picture. Chiaki meanwhile really starts enjoying the conducting and finds the female concert master particularly good. Mine, however, is feeling that Chiaki is getting farther and farther away in terms of skill level.
That night, since Mine is now practicing non-stop, Masumi goes out to get some juice and finds Nodame waving her arms around outside in the dark. He doesn’t realize that she actually has the Bartók piece in front of her and is practicing without a piano. By the next day, Stresemann is back to normal and is conducting the orchestra himself. Even though he’s happy that Stresemann is back, one of the other instructors also thinks that Chiaki is worthy of being Stresemann’s pupil and he hopes to see Chiaki with his own orchestra someday. Everything goes smoothly from here through the actual orchestra performance all the way to the festival’s farewell party. It is there that the reporter from earlier is looking for Chiaki because she found out that he’s the son of the famous pianist Chiaki Masayuki as well as Stresemann’s pupil. She never does get a chance to talk with him, since at that moment Chiaki is searching for Nodame. After Masumi tells him about what he saw last night, Chiaki approaches Nina Lutz. She informs him that she excused Nodame from class and that Nodame didn’t come after that. Nina doesn’t think that Nodame has a passion for music and suggests that Chiaki give up on her. This causes Chiaki to question if he overrated Nodame, but the following day, Nina hears some stunning piano playing of Bartók’s music coming from one of the rooms. However, by the time she gets there to see who it is, the person who was playing is gone. It had of course been the now-exhausted Nodame, and she returns home by car with Mine and Masumi. In contrast, Chiaki takes the Shinkansen home with Stresemann. He tells himself that he needs to move forward, and he decides to first learn Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 that Stresemann had assigned him.
I always saw this part of the story as everyone having something to prove. Mine had to show that he could play at everyone else’s level, Chiaki showed that he was able to conduct an orchestra of strangers, and Nodame proved that she was a special type of musical genius, even though she never got any direct recognition from Nina Lutz. However it was exciting to see that Chiaki was getting some recognition from that reporter, but that won’t come to fruition until a little later.
Next week should be the school festival and the appearance of Nodame’s mongoose.